Lebanon, NH – Firefighters are dedicated public servants who willingly choose to enter a profession that puts their lives in jeopardy in the name of keeping their communities safe. In addition to the immediate dangers of their daily work, firefighters are at an elevated risk for multiple cancers, resulting from burns, inhalation of smoke and fumes, and exposure to chemicals in fire suppression materials.
In some states, specific screenings are recommended for firefighters for various cancers to provide the best chance of early detection. However, New Hampshire does not have these recommendations in place. Dartmouth Health announced at a news event on Monday, May 8, at Manchester Fire’s Station 8 on East Industrial Park Drive a partnership with the Manchester Fire Department and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire to screen eligible firefighters for cancer. The pilot program will initially screen for skin and lung cancer, two of the most common among firefighters, and will eventually expand to offer screenings for other cancers firefighters are often at risk for.
“Dartmouth Health is proud to partner with the City of Manchester and Anthem to provide cancer screenings for firefighters in the Manchester Fire Department,” said Todd A. Noce, DO, regional medical director of radiology, Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinics Southern Region. “Part of our mission is to care for patients and communities beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics. We are indebted to our local firefighters who help when we are at our most vulnerable and we look forward to keeping them healthy for many years to come.”
Statewide, there are approximately 200 Granite State firefighters who currently qualify for cancer screenings and another 100 retirees who qualify as well. The goal of this partnership is to encourage other fire departments in New Hampshire to follow the model in Manchester, and eventually spur requirements for cancer screenings for firefighters at the state level.
“This collaboration is going to allow for a dermatology screening for every member of the Manchester Fire Department and a lung CT for members over the age of 40 with 10 years of service,” said Chief Ryan J. Cashin of the Manchester Fire Department. “Unfortunately, 75 percent of firefighter deaths are the result of occupational cancers. It is our hope at the Manchester Fire Department that this healthcare initiative will make us the exception to that rule. As we all know, early cancer screenings save lives. While it is a firefighter’s job to run into a burning building to save lives, it is our job to save their lives after the fire is put out. It is my intention that this pilot program will be the first step in the development of an early cancer screening program for the entire state of New Hampshire.”
“Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is honored to partner with Dartmouth Health and the city to launch this pilot program to promote earlier cancer screenings for Manchester firefighters. Our firefighters are heroes who are always there for us, which is why it is critical we are there for them,” said Maria Proulx, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire. “Anthem has provided access to quality care for the city’s employees for many years and we are pleased to be able to work with them closely on this initiative to improve health outcomes for the people who serve our city.”