September 2—The City of La Crosse and Mayo Clinic Health Systems are partnering to provide specialized fitness programs for the city’s firefighters.
The finance and personnel committee on Thursday approved a service agreement, noting that Mayo will help develop and deliver a series of fitness programs to improve the health and capacity of La Crosse firefighters.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity,” said La Crosse Fire Chief Jeffrey Schott.
Schott said it’s been going on for three years after a few Mayo doctors expressed a “passion” for firefighter fitness.
Mayo would develop “tactical” fitness routines for La Crosse firefighters using data from previous injury reports, driving observations and firefighter input.
The fitness program would aim to improve mobility, strength, speed and endurance, and reduce the number of work injuries.
“They look at how we perform on the fire pitch, in high heat situations with our full gear, then they come up with training drills and more beneficial ways to move around the fire pitch to reduce the risk of injury. while increasing fitness levels,” says Schott.
Mayo would provide up to three two-hour classes to all firefighters to teach them the programs and help implement them at all fire stations.
Under the agreement, these programs would be provided as a “community benefit” and would cost the city nothing. Schott described it as a symbiotic relationship between the city and Mayo, as medical staff will also be able to use data from the programs for their own research.
“It’s not just about us here, they have other things on their side of the coin as well,” Schott said. “And I think 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.
Medical services would not be in exchange for any other benefits, 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 begin with, and would be reviewed on an annual basis.
“We hope this will continue indefinitely with annual renewal,” Schott said.
La Crosse City Council will vote on the deal next Thursday.
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