Wis. city, Mayo Clinic look to provide specialized fitness program for firefighters

Mayo would develop "tactical" fitness routines for La Crosse firefighters using data from injury reports, ride-along observations and input from firefighters


Olivia Herken
La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

LA CROSSE, Wis. — The city of La Crosse and Mayo Clinic Health Systems are teaming up to provide specialized fitness programs to the city's firefighters.

The Finance & Personnel Committee approved a service agreement on Thursday, outlining that Mayo will help develop and present a series of fitness programs to improve the health and ability of La Crosse's firefighters.

The fitness program would be intended to improve mobility, strength, speed and endurance, and to reduce the amount of injury while on the job.
The fitness program would be intended to improve mobility, strength, speed and endurance, and to reduce the amount of injury while on the job. (Photo/City of La Crosse FD Facebook)

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity," said La Crosse Fire Chief Jeffrey Schott.

Schott said this has been in the works for the last three years after a few doctors with Mayo expressed a "passion" for firefighter fitness.

Mayo would develop "tactical" fitness routines for La Crosse firefighters by using data from previous injury reports, ride along observations, and input from firefighters.

The fitness program would be intended to improve mobility, strength, speed and endurance, and to reduce the amount of injury while on the job.

"They look at how we perform on the fireground, in heat-intense situations with our full gear on, and then they provide exercise workouts and some more advantageous ways to move on the fireground so we reduce risk of injury while increasing fitness levels," Schott said.

Mayo would provide up to three, two-hour classes for all firefighters to teach them the programs and help implement them across all fire stations.

According to the agreement, these programs would be provided as a "community benefit," and would be at no cost to the city. Schott described it as a symbiotic relationship between the city and Mayo, because the medical staff will also be able to use the data from the programs for their own research.

"It's not just about us here, they're getting some other things on their side of the coin, too," Schott said. "And I feel that's probably the mutual benefit of the program."

Schott said he expects to have "full buy-in" from firefighters, who would participate voluntarily. He expected more than 95% of the city's firefighters to participate.

The medical services would not be in exchange for any other benefit, such as the city referring patients to Mayo, according to the agreement. The two would work as independent contractors, and would not be considered a partnership.

This would be a one-year agreement to start, and would be reviewed on an annual basis.

"We hope this continues on indefinitely with an annual renewal," Schott said.

The La Crosse Common Council will vote on the agreement next Thursday.

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(c)2022 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)

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