From Worcester Magazine
By Bill Shaner
In such a high-stress, dangerous and physically-strenuous job, a focus on mental health is as invaluable as it is overlooked. At least that’s how Chief Mike Lavoie sees it.
“The end goal is to keep our firefighters as physically and mentally fit as we can, so they survive their career and then they have a happy healthy retirement. That’s the end goal,” he said.
The tradition of mindfulness and meditation is thousands of years old, but for fire departments, both here and around the country, embracing it is a new and growing trend over the past several years. Worcester has been especially receptive to the idea under Lavoie’s leadership, and it’s a continuation of decades of investment in wellness programs sparked by the Cold Storage Fire in 1999.
“The mindfulness, I think it’s starting to catch on. The fire service worldwide now is starting to realize that stress is huge. Suicide rates are ridiculous. So health and wellness are one of the number one things that the fire service is concentrating on now,” said Lavoie.
Want to learn how to bring mindfulness to your local fire department? Consider becoming a certified mindfulness teacher yourself!