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New Partnership Helps Firefighters Beat Occupational Cancer


A newly awarded grant from The Last Call Foundation will allow DetecTogether, formerly called 15-40 Connection*, to continue expanding its Firefighter Initiative, educating first responders and helping reduce cancer mortality in the fire service.

Since 2002, two out of every three firefighters who have died in the line of duty, died of cancer. Cancer is the #1 line-of-duty cause of death for firefighters. Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer and a 14% greater risk of dying from cancer. Occupational cancer has a devastating impact on firefighters and their families. 

DetecTogether created an initiative in 2018 to help members of the fire service across the country beat cancer through the power of early diagnosis. The 3 Steps Detect℠ program has reached more than 105 fire departments, in six states, including the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY).

The Last Call Foundation was founded by Kathy Crosby-Bell in memory of her son, fallen firefighter Michael Kennedy, who along with Fire Lieutenant Edward Walsh, died battling a nine-alarm fire in Boston’s Back Bay. This tragedy highlighted the unique challenges facing firefighters. The Last Call Foundation is committed to identifying and addressing these challenges to enhance firefighters’ ability to safely and effectively fight fires and protect communities.

Cancer is a direct threat to firefighter lives. The Last Call Foundation, dedicated to improving the safety and health of those in the fire service, is completely aligned with DetecTogether’s mission to teach people how to detect cancer early,” says Crosby-Bell. “Firefighters are brave, selfless, dedicated professionals who put the well-being of others ahead of their own. Through its education, DetecTogether teaches firefighters to be mindful of their own health and well-being, learning to recognize early warning signs of cancer, when to seek medical attention, and how to advocate for themselves within the medical system.”

The Last Call Foundation grant will fund several new DetecTogether efforts, including presentations at national firefighter conferences and programs for Fire Science students and EMTs. The grant will also help DetecTogether lead the charge in educating healthcare providers in Central Massachusetts on the occupational health risks of first responder patients.

“What makes this partnership so special is that we have two organizations working together that are deeply passionate about saving firefighter lives. We do not want to lose any more firefighters to cancer,” says DetecTogether President & Executive Director Tricia Laursen. “With the support of The Last Call Foundation, we can save more lives through the power of early cancer detection. We are honored to be working with Kathy and are excited about the impact we will make.”

By DetecTogether

Updated January 7, 2021

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