EaseAlert is on a mission to combat stress-related deaths in the fire service with a revolutionary tactile Fire Fighter Alerting System (FFAS). When a call comes in, EaseAlert’s proprietary wearables vibrate on the firefighters’ wrists, and bedside alerting devices called BunkAlerts shine red lights to reduce sleep inertia when firefighters are awoken for a call. With heart attacks consistently outpacing all Line of Duty Deaths (LODDs) and suicides having surpassed all combined LODDs, there is no doubt that stress is an epidemic in the fire service. The team at EaseAlert is doing their part to change that. In 2021, EaseAlert delivered more than 10,000 personal heart smart alerts directly to firefighters – not just to fire stations.
Blake Richardson and Elezar Tonev co-founded EaseAlert in 2019. Blake’s father, Brad Richardson, has been in the fire service for the past 18 years, and Blake grew up seeing his dad come home from work worn down every third day. This planted the seed for Blake’s original goal of EaseAlert: make his father’s job less stressful. After learning about the prevalence of stress-related deaths in the fire service, the purpose became bigger for EaseAlert. Richardson and Tonev are now striving to improve quality of life for firefighters throughout the world to help them live longer and healthier lives.
According to an NFPA Report released in 2019, fire departments in the United States responded to 35.3 million calls in 2016. That amounts to 96,700 times every day that an audible alarm alerted firefighters of an emergency. Since the inception of fire service, audible alerts have been the primary method of notifying firefighters of an emergency. These harsh alerts can cause an auditory startle response in the amygdala, the brain’s centre for processing fear and threatening stimuli.
The US Fire Administration explains that the auditory startle response from jarring audible alerts increases blood pressure, intracranial pressure and sweating. Over time these autonomic responses inflame the arteries, increasing risk of heart attack and stroke. Further, a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that firefighters are up to 14.1 times more likely to die from coronary heart disease during alarm response than during non-emergency duties. Fortunately, significant stress reduction can be achieved with simple changes in the alerting process.
In addition to direct medical expenses and workers’ compensation, the consequences of injuries include lost productivity and diminished quality of life. As stated by the 2019 NFPA Report, firefighter injuries represent a societal cost borne by many, and activities that prevent and mitigate firefighter injuries yield economic benefits to the community.
EaseAlert notifies Fire and EMS crews of an emergency with a gentle vibrations from the wearables and low-impact LEDs from the BunkAlerts. By reducing the harmful effect of jarring audible alerts with gentle tactile and visual notifications, EaseAlert aims to reduce stress and improve overall quality of life for firefighters. Reducing the unnecessary stress of the alerting process can help firefighters focus on their mission-critical duties with peak performance.
EaseAlert’s journey began at Fernandina Beach Fire Department (Florida). Today, firefighters across the United States are using EaseAlert’s tactile FFAS to reduce stress and improve efficiency on the job. Feedback has been resoundingly positive from those using EaseAlert in the field. A firefighter in Florida stated, ‘Night-time alerts used to feel like a ‘heart punch’ before we had EaseAlert. The name says it all. EaseAlert is the best way to be alerted.’
With the dramatic impact that stress has on firefighter health, Blake finds it imperative to improve health conditions in the fire service. He says: ‘We owe it to our front-line responders to help them enjoy their lives to the fullest. Seeing how much EaseAlert helps my dad and his colleagues is extremely rewarding, but that is just the beginning for us. Now, our goal is to help the other 14 million mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters in the fire service across the world get the most out of life. If EaseAlert lowers stress on the job and improves overall quality of life for these men and women, then we have done our job.’
For more information go to www.easealert.com