Early Cancer Detection For Adams County Fire Department Personnel

Early Cancer Detection For Adams County Fire Department Personnel

During the month of December 2018 and early part of January 2019, Adams County Fire Protection District participated in a program called “Cancer Dogs”. All members of ACFPD participated in the program including Senior Staff, Administration, Fleet Maintenance personnel and On-line personnel. Each participant gave a breath sample that was sent off to be sniffed by dogs that are specially trained to detect cancer. This type of cancer screening is exclusive to fire departments. The Canada based program says that the program typically will see about a 96 percent accuracy rate on dogs being able to screen individuals for cancer. 

The test is simple; a Firefighter breathes into a surgical mask for about 10 minutes while completing some personal documentation. The mask is then sent off to Canada where the Cancer Dog Program Director Glenn Ferguson will have his highly trained dogs sniff the samples and provide an initial cancer diagnosis for the fire department employee. Individuals who may test positive during the screening process are then eligible to have a more extensive blood draw that will provide them with more definitive answers.

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As most know, Firefighters are at a much higher risk than the general population for cancer due to the dangerous and harmful chemicals/gases that are present at structure fires and other emergency incidents. The screening process will be a beneficial resource in providing all members of ACFPD an upper hand in the fight against cancer. Having a screening process provides hope that if any member does test positive that they will be in the early stages of the diseaseand will have a higher chance of survival.
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Programs such as these, take money. With that being said, it is very important to recognize the efforts of Health One. Health One generously donated the necessary $5000 to get the sample kits ordered. ACFPD also received support from Colorado Professional Firefighters and Adams County Professional Firefighters Local 2403. Currently, ACFPD is awaiting results and looking forward to continuing the process of getting all their members screened.

Story by: Firefighter Mark Livingston