Learn about the Tactical Training program from participants
“Becky is the greatest, she is the Muhammad Ali of trainers,” Rochester Fire Department captain Caleb Feine said as he walked over to his squat rack to begin his tactical training session. Rebecca (Becky) Odegarden, is one of the trainers at Olmsted Medical Center’s (OMC) Sports Medicine and Athlete Performance (SMAP) facility.
Like boxers, firefighters put in hours of training behind the scenes to be able to perform at the highest level when they are called upon.
SMAP has a team of athletic performance coaches that are committed to making all of southeast Minnesota safer with tactical training programs designed to have first responders performing at their highest level.
“Training routines involve equipment that is atypical from an athlete,” Odegarden said. “Firefighters are typically unilateral so they are carrying things on one side of their body hoisting hoses or climbing ladders. We are going to try to use things like sandbags, kettlebells, rollers, hoses, tires any sort of those implements in the workout.”
For Rochester Firefighter Mandee Marx learning how to lift the atypical equipment has increased her performance.
“The trainers teach you how to lift things better. It’s beneficial in my job. Since I am not as big some of the guys, there are different ways I can learn to lift. Utilizing the accessory muscles that they taught us to use through OMC is very beneficial.”
Feine believes that the training has an impact on the communities he serves.
“Our jobs and the tactical training we are doing here, they go hand in hand,” he said. “We are able to carry out the tasks that are expected of us on a call faster and more efficiently,” he said. “This absolutely can equate to better service delivery at our jobs which keeps our communities safer.”
Increased speed and athletic performance is just a side effect of the training for Rochester firefighter Chad Kuhlman.
“Injury reduction.” Kuhlman said. “I had a stint of a couple different injuries that were long and drawn out and I needed to find a way to keep that from happening, and the training is working.”
It was the mission of injury reduction that launched the partnership between OMC and the Rochester Fire Department.
“Injury numbers were high, and firefighters were not able to come back to work,” Odegarden said. “We really felt that we were able to help. We always want to make sure they can maintain that parasympathetic (relaxed) state, because most of the traumatic events we see in tactical athletes are cardiac ones that happen after the fire response. They can’t fully recover from that event.”
In addition to Rochester, OMC SMAP has worked with fire departments in Kasson and Winona in Minnesota, and La Crosse in Wisconsin.
Tactical training sessions are available on site at the fire stations or at the state-of-the-art SMAP facility located in northwest Rochester. The facility houses the latest in athletic performance equipment.
“I started doing the training and began to see some of the differences in my strength and then I went into the facility itself and it enhanced that even more,” Marx said. “It’s a great facility.”
Wes Emmert serves as SMAP’s sports and athletic performance coordinator. He has worked with athletes to maximize athletic performance for over 40 years.
“Firefighting and tactical training is very reactionary it’s not like first and ten and they call up a play,” he said. “An event happens randomly and a firefighter or police officer have to react. If a firefighter is in better condition, they are going to be sharper to make that instantaneous decision on what to do, they are going to be fresher and the ability to be cognitively sharper will make the firefighter more efficient on the job.”
Woven throughout every program, every exercise and every rep is OMC’s commitment to personalized care.
“We build this relationship with the people that we work with,” Emmert said. “We care, we really care about their success. We care about how they are doing. We care about how they are performing on the job. We are consistently implementing innovative programs to improve the fitness and performance of our tactical athletes.”
Firefighters looking to get involved in the tactical training program are asked to call 507.535.1977 for more information.