DetecTogether has been stationed at the Boston Fire Department, delivering its 3 Steps Detect education to all 1,400 of the city’s firefighters. Members of the department who have survived cancer and returned to the job have joined DetecTogether’s presentations. The training, sponsored by McGovern Auto Group and the Last Call Foundation, started in September and will end December 3.
Cancer is a leading line-of-duty cause of death for firefighters. Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer and a 14% greater risk of dying from cancer. Occupational cancer has a devastating impact on firefighters and their families.
DetecTogether 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. “Responding as early as possible and with a plan is critical for fighting fires and for taking care of your health,” says Dennis Kane, Boston Firefighter and EMS Coordinator.
Members of the department, including firefighters Dan Ranahan and Terry Flaherty, who have both battled cancer, joined DetecTogether’s presentations. “Firefighters are many things—strong, brave, devoted. But, we can also be pretty stubborn when it comes to our health, putting off symptoms and avoiding doctor visits,” says Ranahan. “My hope is that DetecTogether’s training program will be a staple in the Boston Fire Department for years to come, and that many firefighter lives will be saved.”
Through the generosity of McGovern Auto Group and the Last Call Foundation, DetecTogether was able to bring its education to Boston at no cost to the city. Wellesley Firefighter and cancer survivor Joanie Cullinan represented McGovern Auto Group at one of the training days. She shared her story and brought her father, Tom Cullinan, who is the Sales Manager at McGovern Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Newton. Kathy Crosby-Bell, Founder & President of The Last Call Foundation, also joined the group for a day of training.
In addition to teaching 3 Steps Detect, DetecTogether is also helping to enroll the Boston firefighters in their FEMA-funded health screenings, an important part of Step 1: Know Your Great. The screenings are being done at both Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.