Co- Author: Ret. Col. Robert “Coach” Lindsey

Recently, I had my bi-weekly telephone call with Bob “Coach” Lindsey. Many LEOs are familiar with Coach as a well-known trainer, mentor, and visionary within the corrections and law enforcement field. He is the Patriarch of many professional organizations like the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). When Coach raises his hand and graciously requests to add his thoughts in a discussion, everyone carefully listens to his wisdom of experience and his passion.

Coach opened our conversation with a sad commentary that we have lost our 13th LEO to an on-duty heart attack this year, the first week of November. In his southern Louisianan accent, he asked if we could do something together to address this growing cop killer. So here we are writing this article together for all of you as Coach humbly refers, “Our Brothers and Sisters of the Shield”.

During the 2014 ILEETA Conference, Coach and I were part of a Law Enforcement. Health and Wellness Project along with retired Westminster, Colorado Senior Officer John Marx and retired Tulsa, Oklahoma Sergeant Mark Sherwood.

With the input of over 75 law enforcement trainers affiliated with ILEETA and many other public safety professionals, we have been developing a basic wellness curriculum for law enforcement trainers.

Research indicates that serious health issues are a major factor in LEO deaths and disability both on and off duty. We have worked hard on our defensive officer survival skills from the criminal element. Now our own poor health and well-being are now contributing to the top 5 reasons for line of duty deaths.

Since 2008, the Officer-Down Memorial Page has indicated that heart attacks have been between the 3rd and the 5th cause of line of duty deaths and the number one killer of firefighters

In 2013, law enforcement lost 111 to line of duty deaths (lowest since 1959):

  1. Vehicle crashes
  2. Shootings
  3. Heart Attacks

What we ask you now is to consider this:

HOW MANY OFF DUTY HEART ATTACKS HAVE TAKEN OUR PEERS OR DISABLED THEM?

LEOs must to be willing to change their lifestyle, if necessary. We’re all smart, conscientious and reasonable adults who may work in a large city, a rural area, and many places in between. Our health and fitness is vital for survival and performing our duties efficiently. Other people are depending on us.

Wearing your seatbelt and watching your speed reduces the chance of a crash or wearing your ballistic body armor increases your chances for survival from a gunshot or a stabbing. In just the same way, getting a health checkup, eating good whole foods, and participating in job-specific physical exercise increases your chance against heart disease, stroke, injury, and other illnesses.

Coach’s and my lives were out of control. We were grossly overweight on the job. Somehow we had the courage to look at ourselves and realize that we needed to change. Today we are both maintaining healthy bodies, minds, and spirits and are willing to help anyone who wants to get well.

There are no guarantees against a sudden illness while we agree that if you look at the real odds, it is much better to take some preventative measures toward an improved and healthy lifestyle.

We want to highlight 10 tips recommended by Dr. Gordon A. Ewy MD, Director Emeritus of the University of Arizona: Saver Heart Center.

  1. Take responsibility for your health.
  2. Know your health risks.
  3. Don’t smoke or expose yourself to second-hand smoke.
  4. Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
  5. Monitor your cholesterol.
  6. Limit your calorie intake.
  7. Make exercise a daily habit.
  8. Pick your supplements carefully.
  9. Reduce stress.
  10. Stay informed as science changes.

In addition, Coach and I want to encourage you as LEOs to:

  1. Get proper sleep (7-8 hours a day).
  2. Develop your personal relationships with family and others outside of L.E.
  3. Do something besides work (hobby, relax, spiritual worship).
  4. Seek peer assistance, visit your chaplain or seek professional counseling to maintain your emotional balance and stress management.

We are asking each of you to honestly look within yourself and assess where you are health-wise. We believe that any change will help you live a more balanced life toward a great retirement while honorably serving your community as peace keepers. We can reduce these sad and tragic health statistics.

REMEMBER: WE ARE THE HONORABLE PROFESSION!

Stay safe and be well!

To learn more:

http://heart.arizona.edu/heart-health/prevent-heart-attacks/10-tips

Sgt. Mark St.Hilaire is a 29 year veteran LEO working in a busy Metro-west suburb of Boston, Mass. He is a volunteer police peer with a regional CISM Team. He is a member of ILEETA. You can follow him on Twitter: @npd3306 or Linked-In. You can contact him by confidential email: [email protected].

Colonel Robert “Coach” Lindsey is retired after 34 years of service with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff Office in Louisiana. He is an active teacher in retirement working with law enforcement and corrections worldwide. Coach has received numerous awards and honors for his role as a tactics trainer, martial artist, Verbal Defense and Influence Instructor, and a mentor to many individuals worldwide.