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Oct 31, 2012 11:36 AM by Ryan Haarer

Southern Arizona firefighters get help battling more than flames

TUCSON - Firefighters have a difficult job in keeping us safe, but we rarely think about how firefighters themselves are protected.

The high stress and odd hours on the job both factor in to the health of our firefighters. Cardiovascular and heart conditions are becoming commonplace in the firehouse. One group is stepping up to take a load off their chests.

The Greater Tucson Fire Foundation hopes to get an ultrasound machine in the firefighter's clinic within the next month. This idea followed a University of Arizona study revealing the best ways to catch signs of cardiovascular disease early in firefighters.

"The advantage of the ultrasound is two-fold," said Dr. Wayne Peate. "The first is that ultrasound does not require the use of radiation. it picks up the blockages, of any kind."

Dr. Paete cares for 97 percent of all the fire fighters in the greater Tucson area. he says one firefighter dies a week nationwide as a result of cardiac arrest.

Adding prevention protocols like the ultrasound is something firefighters say is welcome in their annual check-ups.

"Knowing that the protocol is in place and that back up is behind us, I think that is something that takes the stress of your mind in terms of when you do have to do that 0 to 100 miles an hour. You know you are healthy and ready to do that," said Northwest Fire District Captain Ryder Hartley.

The Greater Tucson Fire foundation is hoping to contribute the ultrasound machine within the next few months. To make your own contribution to the foundation visit their website at:

www.tucsonfirefoundation.com.

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