DetecTogether announces the launch of Response Time Matters, a national health campaign for firefighters. The campaign gives firefighters an actionable, life-saving plan to recognize potential cancer symptoms and accelerate the time to diagnosis.
Occupational cancer is a critical issue facing firefighters. The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently issued a statement that classifies firefighting as carcinogenic to humans. Two in three firefighter deaths in the U.S. each year are caused by cancer. This staggering statistic is rooted in several factors: firefighters are exposed to cancer-causing carcinogens on the job, they often get cancers at an earlier age than civilians before they are eligible for screenings, and their cancer is too frequently detected late, when it is harder to treat and less survivable.
“There are likely thousands of firefighters experiencing cancer symptoms right now,” says Tricia Laursen, DetecTogether’s President & Executive Director. “Firefighters know that on the job, timing is everything. Our strategy is to create a connection between first-response thinking and early cancer detection.”
Jason Patton, a career firefighter and social media influencer known for his Fire Department Chronicles, is the face of Response Time Matters. Patton, who has 4 million social media followers, is beloved and trusted by first responders. Videos and print materials for firehouses incorporate authentic firefighter humor rooted in DetecTogether’s 3 Steps Detect education.
3 Steps Detect teaches firefighters how to identify early symptoms of cancer, gives a timeframe for action, and empowers them to collaborate with their doctors for best health outcomes. When detected early, the survival rate for cancer is much greater than when detected in late stages. DetecTogether has delivered its donor-supported program to over 200 fire departments and aims to significantly expand its reach with Response Time Matters. Firefighters will be encouraged to take 3 Steps Detect online or sign up to bring DetecTogether to their firehouses.
Sara Jahnke Ph.D., Director and Senior Scientist at the National Development & Research Institutes and a member of DetecTogether’s Fire Service Advisory Board, believes that, “The DetecTogether educational program provides the missing link to help educate firefighters on how to take control of their own health and take proactive steps to get diagnosed and treated early—the BEST way to increase survival.”
Response Time Matters, supported by 1AAuto, The Last Call Foundation, Powertech Controls Co., Inc., The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and Redline Gear Cleaning, launched on September 21, 2022, at the Boston Fire Department Training Academy on Moon Island. DetecTogether taught 3 Steps Detect before premiering the campaign for the Boston recruits and invited leaders from the fire service.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Boston Firefighters Local 718 President Sam Dillon spoke as part of the launch program. “We know the risks, we know what’s out there,” said Dillon. “It’s time to get tough. It’s time to get smart. And it’s time to start taking care of ourselves and each other.”