Operational endurance is required more now than any other time in most first responders careers. The hours that are being asked of you right now, the shift work where you are doing doubles, triples. Shoot. Last week I was speaking with someone from fire where they’re back doing six shifts in a row at busy stations where they have 10 to 15 calls a shift for six in a row that’s 144 hours straight, which is what they were doing the first year of COVID.
And what we’re seeing from many of the responders that I speak of and from what I’ve seen in my husband himself, the first year of COVID, we saw him three days a month between working COVID logistics with the uprise in protests that he was at anti-mask, pro-mask, anti-vax, pro-vax. There was also so much unrest with Black Lives Matters that occurred during this time as well.
I was hearing from responders that they knew the risks that they took when they signed up for the job but they did not sign up for their family to be put at risk as well. We had responders whose families with immunocompromised kids. There were stations going out, fire stations, EMS, entire stations police services, depending on the size of the service. My husband’s is quite large.
They did have some big outbreaks at some of the divisions and there was so much where if anybody had symptoms, they were off. And the amount of short staffing was unbelievable as well as the addition of hours. Through that time as well, the civilians themselves, the anxiety was increasing in them. Depression, drugs and overdosing.
There were a lot more calls. There were, I know my husband had a lot more missing person calls during that time as well. There was increased violence, domestic violence, so many different calls that each and every one of you is exposed to were on the rise. So we’re talking about increased call volumes with COVID lockdown and then stations going out and neighboring stations having to cover for not only their own station but these other stations as well.
The operational hours that have been asked of you in the last three years is starting to take effect. What we’re seeing now is a rise in burnout. A rise of more first responders medicalling out because of exhaustion.
And it is absolutely important right now for those of you that are still able to be working your shifts to maintain operational endurance. Cause if you go down as well, who is going to do the work for you?
Your job requires you to be there 24/7. We need you. Civilians, they may not understand how much you hold this world together.
They may not realize how much you do help, what you protect, how many people you help on a daily basis. Know that it doesn’t go unnoticed.
It is very, very important that this COVID effect doesn’t hit you and that you are able to maintain operational endurance. Your job needs you. Civilians need you. Heck, I need my husband to stay on top of his game.
You may be trying all of the things that have worked for you in the past and kept you strong up until this point. Working out , staying tactically strong. There’s so many different ways you all do that. There’s all different kinds of sports.
There’s CrossFit, we have jujitsu, lots of different martial arts, a lot of different tactical training that a lot of you do. And that definitely keeps you strong for the job. Eating healthy when it’s possible. The thing is that with having longer blocks, with more call volume, you’re not getting as much time to be preparing your meals or to be sitting and having more of these healthy meals as well, and they can only get you so far.
When you are pushing your body as hard as many of you are pushing and then taking supplements. A lot of the supplements have done you well for up until this point of your career but you may be finding that the supplements you were taking to help heal and repair post workout or the supplements that you were taking to boost your immune system or keep your body strong, may not be having the effect that they have had up until this point in your career because of how hard you have had to push operationally.
It’s getting to the point where your body is needing more tools.
So it’s not saying that exercise and nutrition or the supplements that you’ve been taking are not good anymore. It’s that your body is being pushed to a point that we need to add more tools into your toolbox in order for you to stay strong operationally, for you to continue pushing the way that your job needs you to push right now. Then we all need you to be pushing this way and stay strong and safe while you are doing so.
Exercise and nutrition, they can only get you so far. We need to add in more tools. If we think of it like a sports car that you would buy right off of the lot. You’re going to take that car home and to maintain it you’re going to give it the proper fuel and make sure that car is given what it needs.
Now, let’s say though that you want to bring that car to a track to start racing. Are the tools that you’ve been using right now to keep that car in peak condition for what you’ve been doing off track, are those tools going to be enough? Is the fuel and the way that you’ve been maintaining that car going to be enough?
Or do you need to lift the hood of that car, maybe do some more diagnostics, see where things are being pushed? Do you maybe need to upgrade some of the parts in that? What do you need to do in order to make that car go to that next level?
We also think of pro athletes where each step that a pro athlete takes they may have started playing for fun.
And then they get enough skills that they’re able to make it onto like double A, triple A team, a rep team and then they eventually get drafted. But every single time that they get drafted, every time that they move to that next level, they are being introduced to specialized coaches. And each time that they get these specialized coaches, these coaches are taking that sports car, doing diagnostics with it and upgrading the parts.
They’re pushing their mind further so that they can stay more focused during games. They are pushing their body more. Teaching them how to be healing and repairing.
Guys that have gotten to pro-athlete status where they weren’t watching their sleep or their nutrition was absolutely horrific. At a pro-athlete level that only carried them so far. And then they had to start getting better and better tools if they wanted to continue to stay on top of their game.
That is where we are finding right now with all of the operational stressors that have been placed on all of you in the last three years, how many hours you’re doing. I mean, the overtime that my husband has worked this year has been astronomical.
If we take the last three years of his overtime, it probably equals more than his overtime accumulation pre-COVID for his entire career. It is amazing how much has been placed on all of you.
And if you’re anything like my husband, he is continually moving into more specializations where they are pushed whenever there are special operations.
With a lot that has been going on, there’s been more unrest as well coming out of lockdown. There’s a lot of people that are in this fight or flight mode and there’s a lot more social unrest.
All of these, I know for my husband are leading into more frequent special operations which requires more time in order to execute.But now they’re more frequent as well. His recovery time in between is less. Tools that used to work for him earlier in his career were not working for him and he needed to upgrade that toolbox.
In order to continue moving up the ranks in order to get that pro athlete status, in order to continue to move your body onto a track where you are going to push as hard as you can and you need to make sure that your body is healing, repairing and able to peak whenever that next operation comes.
Whenever that next block of overtime comes, you need to be ready for that. I’ve seen so much of this in my career. I have a 30-year personal training and nutrition coaching career with athletes with high-level executives since 2018 with first responders.
My background as well is in massage therapy and sports rehab, like really deep depth knowledge of the body and how it really works. I am continually taking courses and the thing is that with these courses that I’ve taken about five, six years into my career I was eating really healthy working out.
I had done fitness competitions. And my body got to this point where it couldn’t handle the tools that I was using for it were not enough to be able to handle, to keep my body strong. And workouts, I was going to work out and my strengths were decreasing instead of increasing. I would go in and my energy would be depleted when I’d go to workout.
I used to be one of the strongest girls in the gym then all of a sudden my strengths just decreased and decreased and decreased and I didn’t know what was going on. I was exhausted all of the time. Pushing from morning to night. Injuries started creeping in. My moods were all over the place and food started bothering my gut, so I couldn’t eat as healthy as I wanted to.
I’m an action taker though and I knew that this was not the life I was living. I’m like, Okay, these tools were not working. So I started learning and studying and finding other experts in their fields to start to figure out what they did complimented the knowledge base that I had and started learning more and more from them to start putting these puzzle pieces together of what tools I was requiring in order to help push my body beyond what exercise and nutrition and the basic supplements could do for me.
And that took me to where I am today. Where I’ve been able to teach my husband the tools in order to stay strong the last three years. As I said, we saw him about three days a month for the first year of COVID. This past year he has been a part of so many operational projects with crazy hours.
He had a 33 hour shift in there, couple over 24 as well. But the average over those 33 days was 18 hours. So that means that he had six hours to get two and from work, showered, dressed fed, and possibly see our family. And in six hours, that’s not possible to get the amount of sleep that you need during that operational push in order to not create sleep debt.
We needed to make sure that his sleep was as on track as possible and that the sleep that he was getting during that time or during any of his operations is quality sleep. That he’s getting enough deep sleep and REM sleep to heal his body and to be able to problem solve and really figure out all the logistics and everything that he needs in the day-to-day operations of his job.
And we need to make sure that his body’s healing and repairing and we’re bringing out all of the tools we need to make sure that his nutrition is getting all of the support that he needs.
There’s no way. Absolutely no way that the healthiest eater, absolute healthiest eater out there can ingest the proper vitamins and minerals that your stress system requires in your job.
The shift work already depletes some but also the hours that you’re working, the way that you’re pushing operationally, your body requires more.
We need to make sure that everything is on par for him.
He has worked, unbelievable hours.
The thing is, is that he’s sleeping great. He recovers quickly.
We’re going on vacation in a few weeks and he’s counting down the days to go cause we haven’t gone in like three years cause COVID and lockdown. But he’s not counting down until he can stop. He’s excited to still go to work. He’s excited to be going there because his body is strong. He’s getting great sleeps.
His body’s healing and repairing. He’s waking with energy most days. When he has a block where he’s pulling some more overtime and he’s really pushing hard then yes, his energy does go down. And yes, he does get a little bit tired but he is so on track with the tools that he needs.
He gets out of it quickly. He is playing hockey and curling every week. He curls Mondays and Tuesdays and also plays hockey on Mondays. And so that means he’s going into his work week, it’s technically Monday and Friday, although he’s quite often seven days a week but he’s going into technically his work week with really pushing his body physically hard and he’s good.
He’s good until Friday. He is recovered. And his body is ready to go. He’s running around with our boys. He just took one of my kids out so that I could record this podcast episode. He makes most of our dinners. He does tons around the house to help out. He is not just sitting on the couch like he has done in the past before we started instilling these tools because his body was so tired.
I’m the one that actually just took a nap. He didn’t today at all. And this is, I believe, only a second weekend off that he’s had in the last like, three or four months. So he’s just recovering so quickly because he has implemented the right tools to recover quickly after all of the operational stress that is thrown at him.
He loves his job and he is operationally strong. He’s ready for. Oh gosh, knock on wood. I don’t want to say this. He’s ready for what’s thrown at him next, but hopefully nothing happens this year. And hopefully we do get to go on this vacation and all is good. Now, this is because he has added those tools and the support. He’s added, the right supplements, he’s added in all of the other tools he’s added in.
The things that he knows for him gets him into a deep sleep. And the thing is, is that it’s different for each of you. There are certain strategies that across the board help but then for us to even fine tune even more is individual to each of you. So it’s really understanding what tools are going to help you get that best restorative sleep so your body heals and repairs, so you’re not getting those over training injuries and your body is physically ready and repaired and peaking and you’re making gains in the gym.
Getting personal bests able to really push it in workouts in between all of these operations that are going on. So does this mean that exercise and nutrition are not important? Absolutely not. They are the solid base. They are that foundation.
But just like the car, these are the exercise and nutrition I equate to being like your quality gas. Really good oil, like good oil changes, regular maintenance on your car. That’s how I attribute exercise and nutrition.
The tools that my husband’s been adding, those are like going in under the hood, doing those diagnostics and souping it up or it’s whenever somebody in sports gets to that next level then they start learning from some higher-end coaches that have some extra tips and tricks and tools and strategies in their tool bag in order to get you to that next level in order to keep you there.
So the exercise and the nutrition are very important. They are there for you day in and day out but as you’re getting to where the most operational endurance is required from what I’ve seen and heard from responders that I’ve worked with then more tools are needed above and beyond exercise and nutrition.
You need to have tools that you can pull out on a call. That can help you right away during the call to be supporting your stress system. You need tools to recover quickly after and understanding what to do between your blocks of shifts so that you are ready for the next demand on your body when it comes.
So if you would like to see if our 911 performance program is for you, cause this is everything that I teach in the program are the tools that I teach my husband, the tools that I teach all of the responders. We have fire medics, we have flight paramedics. We have a fire that is also actually a surgeon. We have police all different, like high level tactical specialized units. We have EMS.
We work with all different first responders, corrections and making sure that you have all of these other tools in order to keep you strong during this operational stress. And that is our 911 Elite Performance Program. So if you would like to see if our 911 Elite Performance is for you, email us at support@911Lifestyle.com and ask for our 911 Elite Performance Assessment.
That’s where I’ll give you a link to my calendar and you’ll book a call where we can actually talk through what you’re currently doing in order to stay strong operationally, what problems you really want to solve and then we’ll see if 911 Elite Performance is a good fit for you.
We don’t take just anyone. We take those who are wanting to really get that push operationally, want to get that endurance operationally for themselves to stay strong with everything that is being thrown at you everyday. So I did cap on a little bit of what it does take to be operationally strong but let’s just break it down into three different phases.
So the first thing is being 911 shift ready. And the thing is that quite often with exercise, with nutrition as well. It’s taught to civilians who don’t work nights, so it’s really figuring out how to make sure that your body is strong 24 hours a day, what to do on night shifts versus day shifts, how to adjust your sleep on any shift schedule if you are coming off of a 24, 48, if you’re coming off of a 12 hour shift.
And you’re sleeping maybe it’s seven in the morning. What do you do? How do you manage that? How do you manage that with your circadian rhythms? How do you make sure that your body knows this is the time to sleep, to heal, to repair, to get into that deep and REM sleep. And when it wakes up, how does it know that this is the time for you to be starting your day so that all of the right hormones are kicking in so that your body’s healing and repairing your mind memory, cognitive is healing and repairing as well.
And that your whole body is working the way it is should so that your stress system is supported. So that’s part of being 911 shift ready is making sure that you do understand the tools beyond exercise and nutrition in order to make sure that your sleep is really on track for a shift worker. And to make sure that your body is doing what it needs to do, when it needs to do to keep it strong from a hormonal stress system perspective.
Then we get into the next phase of strong resting system. Your strong resting system is really, really important because your stress system is overpowering your resting system. Your stress system is so strong, you call on it for every single call pretty much while you’re on shift. The last three years, the amount of times, the frequency that you have had to kick into your stress system is astronomical and your stress system gets so strong it starts overpowering your resting system.
So we need to go and implement strategies just like we would for your muscles, but for your nerves For your resting nervous system so that your resting nervous system becomes just as strong as your stress system.
And in order to make it just as strong as your stress system then you can start controlling which one you’re in and when you’re not, so that you’re not living in that stress system, that stress nervous system as much, you can shut it off as soon as it’s safe to do so.
As soon as the call is over and finished and it is safe to shut yourself out of that stress state, you can switch into that resting state where your body starts digesting and healing and repairing.
Which dives us into the last piece of this puzzle for staying strong, keeping that operational endurance, which is post-shift recovery. And there are certain strategies that are necessary in order for you to recover quicker. There are certain supplements, there are certain things that can be done as soon as the operation is over.
As soon as your block of overtime is over, there’s things to do to get your body to recover quickly and to get through that operational stress, so that whenever the next call comes, you are ready. Your body is recovered and heals.
So the thing is, is that if you don’t do all three of these then you start getting into this vortex into the spiral where certain things start happening, where your sleep might not be healing and repairing you as much, where you might start getting some good sleeps but you’re having some crappy sleeps as well. Where you might not always be feeling like your body’s healing, repairing. You might be able to kick that in the gym sometimes but then there’s other times you’re like, what’s going on? Why is my body not able to push today in the gym?
And you’re not able to really start getting that recovery going. So if you’re missing one of these pieces, the 911 shift, ready being strong resting system or post shift recovery then you’re not able to get to that next level. You’re not going to be one of those athletes that’s on the front lineup all of the time, able to perform, able to get the high scores all of the time because there’s pieces missing.
So to recap on what we have talked about today, the last three years operationally, have required so much of first responders, more so than most responders have experienced in their entire career. And with that, we’re starting to see now there was a lot of overtime, a lot of operations that increased during the first year of COVID and second year and they started dwindling.
But now as responders are burning out and going off on medical leave, there’s a lot more short staffing at leaving a lot more overtime and higher call volumes for you. And so for those of you that are still strong, still standing, need to stay operationally strong. You need to increase the operational endurance.
Exercise and nutrition are definitely a solid base but more tools are needed in order to maintain your operational endurance. And those tools are understanding what is required in order to be 911 shift ready, having a strong resting system and understanding what is needed for post shift recovery on top of the exercise on top of healthy eating.
If you would like to see if 911 Elite Performance is for you. Definitely email support@911Lifestyle.com and ask for a 911 Elite Performance Assessment where we will talk through what you are currently doing to stay strong operationally, what problems you want to solve, and we’re going to help you see if 911 Elite performance is for you.
Again, that is support@911Lifestyle.com. If you would like to start working on your operational endurance right now.