Post Content

With Covid on backburner, Alexandria Fire Department focuses on health and wellness

(Left to right) Tony Washington, AFD’s deputy chief of health, safety and risk management, Dr. Asra Amin, AFD’s director of occupational health and wellness, firefighter Leslie Palucho, AFD Captain Warner Sherman and paramedic Jeff Woolsey outside Station 202 in Del Ray (staff photo by James Cullum)

Warner Sherman looked great, but his cholesterol was sky high.

Last year, the 62-year-old Alexandria Fire Department captain realized that he needed to take red meat out of his diet. The discovery might’ve just save his life, and was made after Sherman got blood work back from AFD’s health and wellness Station 202 at 212 E. Windsor Avenue in Del Ray. Since transitioning to chicken and turkey, Sherman’s lost 10 pounds and his cholesterol has been cut in half.

“A couple of months ago I had my bloodwork done, and they found my cholesterol was very high,” Sherman said. “Before my lab results, I was just eating steak and hamburgers. I love pork chops, but I had to cut them all out completely.”

For many AFD personnel, their only visit to the doctor is for mandatory work evaluations and physicals twice a year. Those visits allow AFD to track the healthy progress of 300 or so members, and additional offerings are now being included in the health screenings, like ultrasounds to detect cancer, blood testing and inoculations.

AFD started focusing on health and wellness in 2019, with the goal of curbing hypertension rates and improving the physical and mental health of these city employees who perform stressful jobs. But the pandemic in 2020 put the program on hold, as Station 202 became the epicenter for AFD’s covid tests and inoculations. Now with covid in the rearview mirror, the Department is picking up where it left off with its health and wellness program.

The most recently available data shows that there were 35 AFD personnel identified with stage 1 hypertension in 2020, and only 11 the following year, according to an AFD 2020-2021 annual report. The department also saw 13 employees with elevated hemoglobin in 2020, reduced to seven employees in 2021.

“The pandemic made us understand that we can do just about anything,” said Dr. Asra Amin, AFD’s director of occupational health and wellness. “It gave us time to reset, and now we’re back in full swing on how to focus on our members’ mental and physical fitness.”

Awareness is key to improving health outcomes, Amin said. The increased screenings ended up detecting a number of AFD employees with cancerous or precancerous tumors.

Amin said that AFD employees are working with her to develop workout, nutrition and health counseling plans.

“We’re also focusing on mental health,” she said. “We make referrals out to therapists and psychiatrists to help our members.”

Tony Washington, deputy chief of health, safety and risk management, said that every fire station is outfitted with gym and cardio equipment, and that AFD is now looking for personal trainers to work with employees at their respective stations and recruit school.

“You gotta remember back in the day, it was just a bunch of men, mainly men sitting around doing a manly job, and alcohol and smoking was accepted back then,” Washington said. “So there’s been incremental changes in the right direction. Now with the addition of our health and wellness specialists that we have, and the programs that we’re putting in place, we want to make sure that we keep the healthy firefighters healthy that come in, and that we increase the health of those that have been here.”

Recent Stories

It’s been a busy week in Alexandria. Just days after Alexandria’s City Council voted unanimously to ditch single-family-only zoning, Mayor Justin Wilson announced that he would not be running for…

The days of digging through archives by address to find a historical report on a building in Alexandria could, themselves, be a thing of the past. Anyone can now easily…

Friends of Guest House needs pajamas and cozy socks for their female residents who are transitioning back to the community from prison. Realtor Maureen Clyne started the annual effort four years ago…

Just Listed in Alexandria

A 4 BD/2.5 BA home with a gas fireplace, patio and a large landscaped yard is included in Just Listed.

Get ready to Shake, Rattle and Roll with this one-of-a-kind, high-octane rockabilly concert experience! Rockabilly Rumble is the all-new, musical experience celebrating the southern rock music that exploded on the scene in the 1950s. Organized by Alexandria City High School Alum and pro-musician Sam C. Jones, this band of world-class performers will have you dancing in your Blue Suede Shoes all night long with songs made famous by Bo Ridley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and more. Relive their most popular hits, along with some forgotten gems. “Rockabilly Rumble” is a dance-worthy, foot stomping evening you’ll never forget!

This show is 21+ only.


Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Unwrap the magic of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday all weekend at Current Boutique! Dive into luxury with exclusive deals on pre-loved designer treasures, celebrating sustainable fashion with every purchase. Whether in-store or online, indulge in guilt-free glamour and support local businesses. ✨🛍️👗

💥 Sale: 25% off everything & 50% off tall boots

📅 Date: Friday November 24 – Sunday November 26

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Christmas Through The Ages

Christmas Through The Ages – Join the Washington Men’s Camerata, and Guest Director Scott Tucker for a program of Christmas and holiday music spanning the centuries through today, featuring the music of Bach, Lauridsen, Abbie Betinis, and many others.


Subscribe to our mailing list