Lee News

HESSE Students and Faculty Serve at Cleveland Fire Department


By Olivia Webb

Students and faculty from the Lee University Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Secondary Education (HESSE) recently assisted the Cleveland Fire Department with its annual physical fitness assessments.

“Lee University has provided the Cleveland Fire Department with a unique opportunity to gather information concerning the health of our firefighters via cutting edge technology,” said Pete Van Dusen, Cleveland Fire Department training captain.

The testing was led by Lee faculty Dr. Mike Iosia, HESSE department chair; Dr. Taz Kicklighter, athletic training education program director; and Dr. Racheal Lawler, clinical education coordinator of the athletic training education program. Exercise science students Rebecca Brewer, Zhannae Cummings, Rob Gustitus, Jayme Kizer, and Benjamin Virgil volunteered to be a part of this project as well. The Lee team worked with the fire department to give them more accurate readings on body composition and hydration status.

HESSE Works with CFD

“At Lee, we talk a lot about service, and one of the goals is to try and find ways to serve in areas of our strength and passions,” said Iosia. “As exercise physiologists our passion is the health and wellbeing of others. Being able to serve our local fireman is a great opportunity for service and passion to come together.”

Lee University provided the fire department access to its InBody 770, a machine that gives a segmented look at muscle, fat, and skeletal mass. The machine, using electric currents, gives detailed results on the user’s body, which allows them to know how their body carries and stores fat. “Knowing about body fat percentage can be used to help improve quality of life and chronic disease prevention,” said Iosia.

This information also helps the users adjust their self-care routine to better fit their body.

“Since cardiovascular issues are responsible for a high percentage of firefighter deaths, the information collected is invaluable to our department,” said Van Dusen

According to Iosia, hydration status deals with how the body holds and filters water. By understanding each fireman’s level of hydration, the firemen will know how to acclimatize their body in high stress, high heat environments. This knowledge is valuable to the fire department to create safer working conditions.

“We are extremely grateful to the staff and students of Lee for their willingness to include our department in their testing,” said Van Dusen. “We are very impressed with the knowledge and professionalism of all involved. This partnership will serve to protect and prepare our personnel for the rigors of firefighting, and in turn, help us provide better service to the citizens we serve.”

Not only did the fire department benefit from this testing, but Lee University students were given a firsthand opportunity to apply what they have been studying to a real-world situation. The reading of body composition, lean muscle mass, and general health marker data directly correlates with the studies of the students.

“I enjoyed venturing off campus to do research with the fire department because it allows us the opportunity to use our knowledge to contribute to the community,” said Gustitus, senior exercise science major at Lee.

A team from Lee’s HESSE department is scheduled to return this fall to the Cleveland Fire Department to conduct more physical testing on new recruits.

For more information on HESSE or Lee’ athletic training program, contact (423)614-8479 or email hesse@leeuniversity.edu.

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