CHASKA, Minn. — Nobody said aging was easy, especially if you have the added physical demands of being a firefighter.
Chaska Fire Marshal Kevin Gravalin realized he'd put on a few pounds during his 30-year career, but it was a medical screening that drove home the importance of staying in good physical condition.
He learned that firefighters were at a much greater risk for cancer, cardiac arrest, and PTSD.
"That light that goes on and makes you realize that we need to be held accountable, the public relies on us, and if we're not physically capable of doing the job, we can't help them," Chief Gravalin said.
Armed with some sobering information, a change in culture began at Chaska fire.
"We had a personal trainer come in and offer some personal training classes for our group," said Kevin.
The focus was on diet and fitness. The entire department even got in on the action, starting a new weight loss challenge.
Collectively, the entire department lost about 325 pounds.
Kevin himself lost 45.
Kevin's personal journey reflects the work of the entire department. His heart rate and blood pressure are at normal levels once again, and he's walking at least one hour each day.
That dedication to physical wellness is just a small part of why this community will be in capable hands for years to come.