"Sometimes, guys look at it as a badge of honor to have the soot and the dirt on their gear. It looks cool, or whatever they think. But what they really need to know is every time they put that gear on, they're exposing themselves again."
New Hampshire firefighter Russ Osgood knows the dangers of his profession. Each day, he — along with thousands of firefighters across the U.S. — puts his life on the line to help others. Osgood says he loves his job, but he knows that he is putting his health at risk while out on calls. The fact is, many firefighters are exposed to environmental and chemical hazards while they are working and, all too often, they don’t even know it. Carcinogens get into their systems, build up over time, and begin to form cancers — such as mesothelioma and other lung cancers, like testicular cancer, prostate cancer, blood cancer, and multiple myeloma.
While there are a number of health and safety resources — including Firefighter Cancer Presumption Laws in several states — sometimes there is little assistance for fighters who have been diagnosed with cancer due to occupation exposure. But a new smartphone app called Exposure Tracker could be a game changer; giving firefighters just the tool they need to get the help they deserve.
Exposure Tracker App Documents Exposures to Hazardous Environments
Exposure Tracker is a revolutionary app designed by a retired California firefighter for firefighters. The cloud-based software is designed to collect information on any injuries, toxic exposures — such as asbestos — and communicable diseases firefighters come into contact with while out on a call.
The report is detailed. Not only can the app document chemicals firefighters are exposed to, but also:
- The amount of time they were on the scene of a fire.
- The activities they performed while battling a fire.
- The length of time from the end of a call to when a firefighter gets his or her shower.
And, its benefits are virtually limitless.
In February 2015, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a study showing a clear relationship between the number of blazes a firefighter responds to and his or her lung-cancer risk. With accurate documentation now available through Exposure Tracker, firefighters — and the physicians who care for them — can now pinpoint exact probabilities of developing a chronic illness and take appropriate preventive measures.
What’s more? Exposure Tracker also gives firefighters the proactive documentation they need to file for worker’s compensation under Presumptive Cancer Laws.
Exposure Tracker Helps Firefighters Face Cancer Presumption Laws Head-On
Only thirty-four states have enacted laws that allow firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) workers who develop certain work-related injuries, illnesses, and diseases to qualify for workers’ compensation. The word “presumption” is used in these pieces of legislation to establish the right to assume that the injuries, illnesses, or diseases are a consequence of work and are compensable without evidence provided by the employee. (Normally, employees in other professions must prove that their injuries, illnesses, or diseases are caused by the work or workplace conditions.)
While the presumptive laws have helped thousands of firefighters retain their jobs and get proper treatment for cancer and other illnesses, the laws are not iron-clad. They do not automatically put the burden of proof on the organization to prove that the illness isn’t job-related. This is why the Exposure Tracker technology is so important. It gives firefighters a real sense of security, allowing them to gather essential documentation for any potential occupational illness or injury they may face.
Protecting Firefighter Health for Years to Come
So far, the Exposure Tracker technology — which costs a mere $5 per firefighter annually —has been a huge success. And, it’s growing. New functionalities have been added since its launch, including:
- Certification tracking
- Vaccination tracking
- Psychological exposure tracking — which is valuable for illnesses involving PTSD
- Rehab tracking
Firefighters are normal men and women who fight bravely in abnormal situations. They are not immune to damage. And, the injuries and illnesses they suffer can be permanent — and fatal. But now, thanks to Exposure Tracker, the fight to keep a firefighter’s long, healthy career and retirement intact just got a little easier.