In January 2018, Jim Marshall, Ryan Dedmon, and Ricardo Martinez created the Survive & Thrive Fit Challenge. The challenge is a collaborative partnership between the 911 Training Institute and Within the Trenches Podcast to inspire dispatchers, and all other first-responders, to improve their overall health, wellness, and the quality of life at home and work. Since then, nearly 300 first-responders have joined the group on Facebook.
This group is comprised of different types of public-safety professionals who have made a commitment to take back control of their personal wellness. Together, they find inspiration and encouragement from others who work in the same field and struggle with the same challenges: long hours of shift-work, irregular hours of swing and graveyard shifts, sedentary hours behind a console or in a vehicle, chronic exposure to traumatic incidents, emotional eating habits in response to stress, and irregular sleep patterns. But the Survive & Thrive Fit Challenge is not just about physical fitness.
The challenge is a holistic approach to wellness; physical activity and exercise is just one component. Of course, we encourage first-responders to be more active and exercise regularly, especially dispatchers who have a sedentary job and are tethered to a console by wearing a headset. However, the holistic approach to improving personal wellness means we also encourage first-responders to be more self-aware of their eating and sleeping habits, encourage them to participate regularly in hobbies and spend time with their social support systems (family/friends), and give them tools for relaxation techniques and positive self-talk.
The Survive & Thrive Fit Challenge is not just about losing weight or inches off your waistline. The movement inspires first-responders to be fit physically, mentally, and emotionally so they have long and healthy careers. By doing so, maybe we make them better first-responders, and maybe we just make them better people.