Excerpts from the dailyherald.com:

Participants at the “Firefighter for a Day” training program were all medical professionals, including physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons, who spent a day walking in the shoes of their patients. Wearing complete firefighting gear, they crawled through simulations of burning buildings, advanced hose lines into a heated fire environment, and learned how to transport a victim from a second-floor fire.

Working alongside of them were firefighters from Hanover Park, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Des Plaines, and Rolling Meadows. The daylong session took place at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy in Glenview and was organized by the Rolling Meadows Fire Department.

Fire department are working with a new provider network committed to caring for first responders emergency personnel and getting them back on the job as quickly as possible. The philosophy is the brainchild of the Milwaukee-based Tactical Athlete Health and Performance Institute, or TAHPI. The institute was started in 2010 by a physical therapist who formerly worked with major league baseball players. By connecting firefighters to medical specialists who are committed to preventing injury sooner, they are saving the communities they serve in overtime costs, workers’ compensation, and health care.

Last year the access to medical care managed by TAHPI saved the city of Milwaukee around $2.3 million.

A Rolling Meadows firefighter who sustained a back injury last December saw an orthopedic specialist the next day and went for a physical therapy assessment that afternoon because of the city’s enrollment in TAHPI. That week, he eventually was referred to a physical therapist near his home and was back to work in three weeks.

Rolling Meadows was among the first suburban departments to partner with TAHPI, and the other departments who helped out at the training session also signed up. They are among 40 departments in five states who now treat their first responders police officers, firefighters, and paramedics as athletes.

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