A Time for Gratitude

09Gratitude1You have to be a real Scrooge not to feel some sense of gratitude and community during the holiday season, which starts mid-November in anticipation of Thanksgiving and lasts through the clinking of champagne flutes that ring in the New Year on January 1. As an essential public safety and health service and a proud partner in the community, EMS can and should be visible throughout the holiday season. There are many ways to get involved as part of your efforts to raise awareness about EMS and to give back to the people who support you all year long.

arrow redVolunteer to cook or serve a meal at a shelter

arrow redUse your off-duty vehicles to deliver holiday meals09Gratitude2

arrow redRoll down the street in a holiday parade

arrow redGo caroling (be sure to wear your uniforms) and give away magnets with your contact information as stocking stuffers

arrow redVolunteer as Santa

How One EMT Gave Himself the Gift of Life09Gratitude3

With food-laden holidays just around the corner, November is a great month to step on the scale. Three years ago, Max Leihenseder, an EMS worker with the Davidson County EMS in Lexington, North Carolina, weighed in at 303. His extra weight kept him from sleeping well and affected his job performance. "I'd have difficulty breathing after lifting a patient," he admitted. His doctor was about to prescribe blood pressure medicine when Leihenseder decided to take another route: He would lose weight.

Along with his wife, Leihenseder began a weight loss program. He started with a physical exam, and then, under his doctor's care, began eating balanced meals that included vegetables and low-fat protein, like chicken. Fruit replaced sugary desserts. He also began a fitness routine three or four times a week.09Gratitude4

After just over a year, Leihenseder weighed 148 pounds - more than 150 pounds less than his original weight. Two years later, he's kept his weight at 150 pounds, and his health has greatly improved. "The blood pressure medicine went by the wayside," Leihenseder said. "I'm more productive at the back of the truck now that I don't have to catch my breath after lifting patients."

Leihenseder is now the go-to person in his department for co-workers who want to follow his lead. His advice? Begin with a visit to your doctor, then use common sense when it comes to eating and exercising. "My wife and I made a game out of seeing who could lose the most weight that week," he added, noting that competition with co-workers or friends "keeps you motivated."

"We all know the difficulty of obese patients," Leihenseder said. "We know about their health problems and the trouble we can have caring for these patients. You don't want to become one of those patients yourself." 

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