More Than A Firefighter: A Cardiac Arrest Survivor - Central County Fire & Rescue

More Than A Firefighter: A Cardiac Arrest Survivor

It was just like any other morning for CCFR Captain Joe DeCosty. Like he had done thousands of times before, he went to the gym to get his daily workout in before starting his 48-hour shift at CCFR fire station #6. On this day, though, he would never make it to the firehouse.


Joe was what many would call the picture of excellent health. He was an avid athlete, ate well and took care of himself. No one ever thought Joe would be the victim of a heart attack, yet like so many firefighters, Joe suffered a devastating heart attack. Fortunately, he was at the gym with others around when it happened. Bystanders called 911, and paramedics were able to shock Joe’s heart back to life. But the damage was done, and Joe would never return to the job he loved.

Sudden cardiac death consistently accounts for approximately half of on-duty firefighter fatalities, according to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services and the Journal of American Heart Association. Factors such as ongoing shift work, disrupted sleep, heat stress and fluid loss can all lead to ongoing cardiovascular problems. These stressors on the heart, combined with the intense stress levels during and after an emergency inc

Heart attacks are not the only risks facing CCFR’s professional firefighter/paramedics. Our first responders also face increased chances of a cancer diagnosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide and, most recently, COVID-19.

Prop. R would provide additional funding to allow our community’s firefighter/paramedics to retire when they need to, and in many cases before a life-threatening illness or injury forces them to. You can learn more about Prop. R, which appears on the Nov. 3 ballot, HERE

The More Than A Firefighter video series is an informational effort by Central County Fire & Rescue to educate the community about the dangers facing our local professional firefighters and provide information about Proposition R to provide additional funding for the District’s retirement program.