Hometown Heroes: Firefighters
By Lindsay Kirkland
When others run out, firefighters run in. The stress of the call, facing life and death situations, treacherous conditions along with heavy uniforms and equipment all take a serious toll on firefighters.
Most people think firefighters’ biggest death threats are the fires and collapsing buildings. But over the last 30 years it’s been shown that 45 percent of firefighters’ on-duty deaths come from heart disease.
Heart attacks are the single largest killer of firefighters. Heart Disease kills more on-duty firefighters than anything else and it is linked to emergency duties, a Harvard study shows.
No one knows this better than Michael Fiedor, a recently retired Fire Chief of the Scullville Volunteer Fire Department. Fiedor was only 37 years old when he had his first heart attack while on a fire call. Years later, shortly after his retirement in 2016, his chest pains returned. Fiedor wasn’t sure where to turn to get the help he needed. Although Fiedor had not yet said anything to his wife, Kathy, she seemingly read his mind and picked up the phone to call Deborah Heart and Lung Center. That call saved Fiedor’s life.
The Captain Buscio Program at Deborah Hospital offers free comprehensive cardiovascular and pulmonary evaluations and care at no cost to all firefighters, police officers and emergency responders throughout the state of New Jersey. The program is named after Captain Dominick Buscio, a fire captain in Jersey City who died of a heart attack at 39. Over 5,000 firefighters, police officers and emergency responders have received treatment and there is never a bill.
“There is no doubt this program saved my life,” says Fiedor. After that initial call, he was evaluated and tests were completed swiftly. Fiedor got five stents put in his heart and another in his carotid artery. He describes his care as outstanding and shares what his doctor said, “‘Chief, you’ve been taking care of people your whole life, let us take care of you.’”
He did just that. Now he is enjoying retirement with his wife Kathy and spending time with his daughter and two grandchildren. Fiedor’s advice to other firefighters is, “Take care of yourself. Be mindful of your body. You know if something is off better than anyone else. Get it checked out before something goes wrong.”
If you would like more information about the Captain Buscio Program at Deborah Heart and Lung Center, go to https://demanddeborah.org/patients-visitors/captain-buscio-program/ or to Schedule an appointment, call Deborah Heart and Lung Center 1-800-555-1990, or Cardio Pulmonary Diagnostic 973-596-1200.