Response Time Matters Campaign

Our 3 Steps Detect education does more than teach the benefit of early cancer detection, it causes life-saving action.

Recently, we conducted extensive market and design research to bring 3 Steps Detect, an actionable plan to help detect cancer early, across the country. We identified the need for a public health campaign and found a marketing partner with a proven track record of creating significant health behavior change. Together, we’ve developed and tested a plan.

The first phase of the campaign will target firefighters, an at-risk group with high need and willingness for intervention.

Why It Matters

Firefighters know that timing is everything. Our strategy is to create a connection between first-response thinking and early cancer detection — Response Time Matters.

Firefighters are a tight-knit brotherhood, skeptical of outsiders. They’ve responded well to our training and trust DetecTogether. We’re the right organization to take on this campaign. Our messaging will be authentic and relatable.

On the job, firefighters inhale, ingest, and absorb carcinogens from smoke, soot, and fumes. There are likely thousands of firefighters experiencing cancer symptoms right now. The sooner we reach them, the more lives we save.

  • Cancer is the #1 cause of line-of-duty death for firefighters.
  • 2 in 3 firefighter deaths in the U.S. are caused by cancer.
  • Most do not recognize early warning signs of cancer.
  • Many firefighters “tough it out” and do not address health problems.

Firefighters have an elevated risk for many cancers. Check out the cancer survival rates for the most common cancers diagnosed in the fire service to see the great power of early detection.

Early vs Late Stage Cancer Chart

With a deep understanding of their unique risk and culture, we’ve developed a program specifically for firefighters and have been praised for:

  • Teaching 3 Steps Detect in more than 160 cities and towns in the northeast, including FDNY and Boston Fire Department
  • Creating a national Fire Service Advisory Board with top fire health and safety professionals
  • Working with FEMA to develop 3 Steps Detect online, self-paced, interactive courses

Campaign Plan

Response Time Matters will get firefighters, who are focused on the short-term and don’t want to think about their cancer risk, to self-identify cancer symptoms and self-advocate for timely medical attention. For the past three years we have taught firefighters in-person, in more than 160 cities and towns in the northeast. During the pandemic we expanded our offerings to include live instructor-led webinars and extended our geographic reach.

Jason Patton is a career firefighter known for his Fire Department Chronicles. A social media influencer with 1.8 million followers, Jason is beloved and trusted by firefighters.

We’ll use videos featuring Patton that will be both entertaining and rooted in our 3 Steps Detect education. Firefighters will also see Response Time Matters messaging on digital media and in-station collateral.

All will give an actionable, life-saving plan to recognize potential cancer symptoms and accelerate the time to diagnosis. Firefighters across the nation will see Response Time Matters on digital media and on in-station collateral.

Key performance indicators will change over the life of the campaign.

Initially, we will measure success by tracking engagement with the resources and calls to action.

Over time, we’ll track behaviors changed and lives saved.

3 Steps Detect causes behavior change that leads to early cancer detection. Success with firefighters will set an example for our next target audiences. Ultimately, this public health campaign will bring DetecTogether’s life-saving messages across the country. It will take a team of heroes to bring this vision to life. For this first phase of the public health campaign, DetecTogether seeks $1.3 million in funding.

Our Outcomes

After we taught Ryan Kelley 3 Steps Detect at his firehouse, he realized that he should get a scab that wouldn’t heal checked by a doctor. “I probably waited a ridiculous amount of time, but the training you did caused a bell to go off.” Ryan had surgery to remove a tumor that was skin cancer. “I’m really grateful I can put this behind me now and was able to prevent it from turning into something horrible. Now I’m doing great and I can’t thank you guys enough for what you’re doing for all of us.”

Ryan’s Story

We Need Your Help to Make It Happen

It will take a team of heroes to bring this vision to life. We are seeking $1.3 million in funding for the first phase of the campaign.

For More Information or to Help

Contact Tricia Laursen, President and Executive Director, at (508) 353-7894 or