La Crosse, Wisconsin (WXOW) ------ Heart attacks account for almost half of firefighter deaths on the job each year. Its among the most stressful jobs in the world.
35 firefighters protect the city of Onalaska and two townships. For a department its size it's one of the busiest in the county. That's why being ready for anything, both mentally and physically is critical.
Students from UW-La Crosse's Physical Therapy Program are hoping to help firefighters get in shape. Picture how you feel when you're stressed. Add smoke, fire and 40 pounds of gear.
Chief Don Dominick of the Onalaska Fire Department says it takes a couple of cans of breathable air and if one guy isn't in shape, the whole team pays the price.
Ben Bloomer and Luke Miller from the UW-L therapy program designed the workouts. They're there to motivate the firefighters and say that if the firefighters succeed everyone wins.
The program is about achieving a higher standard of physical fitness but Chief Dominick says more than that, it's about sending the guys out prepared to do their job and bringing them home in one piece.
The 10 week program is part of the national 'Everyone Goes Home' firefighter safety initiative. It is the first program of its kind in Wisconsin.
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