Orlando firefighters exercise to stay safe on the job

- Stretching, reaching, holding, breathing... It's called Foundation Training. Orlando firefighter Jessie Salas discovered it when he got hurt.

“Had an injury,” Salas said, “I reached out for help and how do I rehab this, and it opened my world up.”

He knew his fellow firefighters could use it to ease their injuries, too.

“This is my way of bringing back to the guys I work with to say here's a way we can work on it to prevent it from happening again,” Salas said.

The National Fire Protection Association says about 68,000 firefighters in the US were hurt on the job, last year. More than half of these were from slips, strains, jumps, and falls.

“It's one of very few professions that's constantly pulling people, pushing people, moving up ladders, climbing in an out of things, rolling around on the floor, often at two or three in the morning when they haven't slept for three hours,” said Dr. Eric Goodman, from Foundation Training “so we take it very seriously, these first responders need stability in their bodies.

That's where OFD says this training can help. “Strengthening those middle connective tissues, or the core as they like to say on TV, to protect those areas,” said Orlando Firefighter Chris DeMaagd, “because those are the areas that are so openly prone to injury in this job.”

It looks like yoga, though, which can make it a hard sell to some firefighters, used to dumbbells and machines.

“I tell them this isn't to take over their training,” Salas explains, “it's to enhance their training, to make them better at their training, stronger at their training, less prone to injury, and that usually gets them going - okay, let me see what this is about.”

Foundation training is providing these lessons for free. Six firefighters are getting certified to teach these techniques to their fellow first responders.

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