The Firefighter Recovering

The number one step is to forgive yourself. You are not a defective piece of equipment. You are never a failure for your feelings. There is no dishonor in what you have experienced. In fact, many of the strongest, kindest, noblest firefighters I ever met had come through some terrible darkness and lived to see the other side. Suicide attempts, opiate addiction, alcoholism, poverty, and crime. To come to terms with the dark parts of your history requires great integrity and courage.
Alcoholism, in particular, is nasty because it is self-perpetuating. It is cyclical. Every firefighter knows the feeling of intense panic, clenching at the chest. Every firefighter knows the unbearable waves of hot shame that follow an unfortunate error, rising in your gullet. Who wouldn’t want to escape that? You get drunk one night, go too far, and you do some stupid, embarrassing stuff. The next day, you’re carrying around that shame, on top of the problems from before, on top of a hangover and the residual depressive effects of the alcohol. You struggle through the day, feeling rough, and when work is done, all you can think about is drinking again to forget about it. Then, the next day, you’re carrying around double your share of a hangover. The further dehydration and depression continue, like in long division. You never resolved your shame from the first night, either – you just avoided it, and now you’ve compounded it with some new guilt. Well – maybe tonight will be different.
Before you know it, you’re trapped. You’re carrying around such a tangle of problems that you need that drink every day to feel okay. At that point, you are no longer in control of yourself.
Alcoholism is sad and hard. But it’s not unique. Many, many firefighters grapple with it every day. Our culture practically demands it. Alcohol is bonding, ritual, comfort. It knits the squad together. And we use it to cope, too – to briefly forget our emotional distress, our chemical imbalances, our broken homes, our long-term injuries, our fallen friends. We drink to cope with the fact that; we just don’t care anymore. This is why alcohol is seductive. It’s like a bad friend, sneaking around to whisper in your ear – “It doesn’t matter.”. You start to talk to yourself differently – “Stupid of you, like usual. What’s the point? Damn disgrace – just gut it out, and you can get drunk.” It affects your health, too. Headaches, high blood pressure, liver and kidney problems. Acid reflux, stomach ulcers. Weight gain, less testosterone. You become slower, dumber, less cautious, more anxious.
When you quit, the first week or so will be the worst. Depending on how long you’ve been a drinker, it can even be extremely dangerous. If you’ve been abusing alcohol for a while, you can expect it to be something like the worst flu you’ve ever had. It’ll probably start with a jittery, nervous feeling. You’ll start craving your daily drink, and as time wears on without getting it, you’ll start experiencing headaches and a lot of anxiety. This will eventually translate into actual shaking, starting with the fingertips and potentially move across your entire body if you’ve been an alcoholic long enough. The first night will likely pass sleeplessly, as you feel uncomfortable and prickly. But the next day or so is when things start getting rough. Deprived of its usual alcohol dosage, your body has no idea how to function. You’ll experience terrible nausea, and probably spend a lot of time hunched over the toilet bowl, dry heaving, and retching. You’ll alternately be sweating or shivering cold, or both. Your head will hurt so bad it feels like your brain is pushing your eyeballs out of your skull. Clear thinking is next to impossible.
At this stage, it’s crucial to be careful. You should consult your doctor before quitting alcohol cold turkey. They will advise you not to do this at home. They can prescribe you medication that can help with the cravings and side-effects, or devise a program to wean you off. If you’ve been drinking consistently for years, suddenly quitting carries a grave risk of seizures or even death. Alcohol is one of the drugs that can kill you when you quit. Many drugs will make you feel awful when you quit, but alcohol would rather kill you than let you go. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to make your stand in a hospital or a rehab clinic. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The withdrawals hit their peak around the 3rd day or so. At this point, you will likely be totally out of commission. If you have been a drinker for a long time, you will probably lose most of your motor skills and will have to ride it out in a hospital or clinic. This can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week, depending on your condition. This period should be marked by regular attendance at therapy, to help coach you through this difficult time. Your brain will not be functioning well, your emotions will be out of balance, and you probably will experience a lot of anger, guilt, and confusion. You’ll have to do the hard work of forgiving yourself, which often starts with confronting the things in your past that led you to drink in the first place. This is a time where your friends and family will have to be patient with you, and you with them. From here, it only gets better.
Around week 2, you will start to emerge from under the cloud. Your body and brain will start to recover, and you will find that you feel far, far better than you have in a long time. You’ll start to notice colors being more vibrant, smells more distinct. Your reflexes and memory will improve. At this point, the cravings will most likely still be pretty bad, but you won’t have a dark fog hanging over your brain at all times. At around a month, you’ll be feeling great – and this is the point at which you have to be extra careful. You’ll feel so good that you’ll start to let your guard down. You’ll feel so proud that you figure you can handle anything – even a drink or two. This is where a lot of people slip up. If you do, there’s no shame in it – it’s more common than not. Just tell your support and pick up back at square one, a little wiser. But if you manage to power through, you’ll be rewarded with increased faculty and agency. You’ll be thinner, with more testosterone and a more resilient mind. But best of all, you won’t have the feelings of guilt and self-directed anger always bubbling up inside you. In their place will be a gentle pride and the collected wisdom that only comes from hard-earned life lessons. You’ll be free, like a person just out of prison.
It’s a tough road, but when you come out on the other side, you’ll carry yourself with the strength and conviction that only those who have seen rock bottom can know. You’ll recognize the struggle in your friends and fellow firefighters, and you’ll be able to help them, too. They’ll see your resiliency, and you won’t be afraid to lend them a shoulder to lean on when they need it. They’ll need your compassion. If you’re struggling with alcohol, understand that you never need to take another drink, if you don’t want to. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can live through this, and see a brighter world than you ever imagined was possible. Reach out to a trusted firefighter, friend, therapist or me today. There is no shame in bettering yourself. (Source: Mark W Lamplugh Jr. )

Firefighter blog

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Defend. Protect.

When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose … We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our Constitution. – Meryl Streep, Golden Globes, Jan. 8, 2016

Our lives are built on information. We interpret it. We ingest it. We rely on it to make decisions that greatly and gravely affect our lives. But if that information is skewed, if only half the story is told, and if journalists are denied access to the halls of power while corporate interests preside over the public interest, who loses? We do.

As the USA transitions from one administration to another, the need to be vigilant has never been more critical. Thanks to you, the Center for Public Integrity finished strong in 2016 and enters 2017 backed by 28 years of deep-dive investigations that reveal extraordinary abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of public trust by powerful public and private institutions.

But they need your support to keep that reporting robust. As the esteemed actress Meryl Streep said, we need to hold the powerful to account.

“We’re going to need them [journalists] going forward and they’re going to need us, to safeguard the truth.”

Please support the work of the Center for Public Integrity.


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Happy New Year 2017!

Best wishes for a bright and promising New Year 2017! We hope it is the best year ever for you filled with everything that makes you happy and keeps you safe. Happy New Year 2017!
Sincerely yours,


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Happy Holidays

Wishing you all Happy Holidays!

May your dearest dreams come true. May your days be filled with joy and happiness. We wish you success in all your endeavors! Spend this holiday with your loved ones. Take care of yourselves and be happy!



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Get yourself ready for a great year ahead

During this time of year, it’s only natural for us to think about endings – but I’m always more interested in beginnings. Just as soon as this year’s holiday parties are wrapped, we’ll be thrown headlong into a brand new year – and a fresh opportunity to thrive. As you wind things down for 2016, make sure you’re also winding up for 2017. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a great new year: Set goals and make resolutions.

That’s why December is one of my favorite times of the year, because it means the end is near and there’s a clear path to a new beginning. It’s a great time not only to look forward to the future but to think about where you are now.

Regardless of where you are at in your life, I believe you always need goals to help you keep growing and improving. You should have big dreams for yourself. And in order to reach those dreams, it’s important to check in with yourself on your needs and your progress. It keeps you accountable — and makes things actually happen.

I want us all to take some time this month to think about our growth this year. What did you set out to achieve in January? Maybe it was as straightforward as keeping up a regular exercise schedule. Or maybe you were aiming for a promotion this year, or to get serious with someone you care about. Whatever it was, how did you do with that goal? And how can you continue to improve on it until the end of the year?

What helps me track progress is writing down a big question that I have on a Post-It, and then possible solutions. It forces me to think of solutions to something that might have seemed big or overwhelming.

For example, perhaps at the beginning of the year you’d said you wanted to run your first marathon. But it was overwhelming, and tough, and it just never happened. That doesn’t mean that goal is a wash. You just need some time to focus on getting there.

You could write on your Post-It: How can I get ready for a marathon? And then write down what you’d need to do to answer that question, like asking friends who have run one before for advice and coaching, starting a fundraising page, downloading a workout app or getting new running shoes. Breaking that big question down into smaller answers can make it seem less intimidating and much easier to get started on.

Knowing that the end of the year is upon us, I’ve already begun to eat a little healthier, started working out just a little bit more and have set my first travel plan with my family. I am ready to take on 2017 with a vengeance.

I hope that you to can join me in this push through the tail-end of 2016. Make sure you are on track to bring something awesome into the new year with you. Make this the best year you have ever had, and know that next year has the potential to be even better. Keep telling yourself that, because the universe is listening.

Open diary New Years Day on wood background

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Early Wednesday, Donald Trump was officially elected the 45th President of the United States. Need to see it to believe it? Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of who won what and where. Later, Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in a private phone call. “She congratulated us,” Trump said, “and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign.”
Clinton supporters in New York ended Election Night in tears. Meanwhile, nations across the globe voiced their opinions about the president-elect. For some, it marks the end of an era. Here in the States, Van Jones put the result in perspective calling it a ’white-lash’ against a changing country.
Aside from clinching the presidency, the Republican Party also has House and Senate majority. This is our new reality. “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division,” Trump said. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me.” His inauguration will take place Friday, January 20, 2017. Brace yourself. Winter is coming.img_1943
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How running helped my firefighting career

I mentioned in my book ‘Firefighting from within‘ about running at a young age and now I want to share how it helped me as a firefighter. Running helps to get rid of excessive adrenalin and other stress hormones, boosts your mood and keeps you fit. Running is free, you can do it anywhere, and it burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise. Also, cardiovascular training for firefighters can make the job a lot easier and is part of the four fundamentals of firefighter functional fitness. Don’t get me wrong, I also did a lot of strength training to cope with the demands of the job too. In fact, here is the weekly training program that I did:

6 days per week - Some sort of running including: Fartlek, Hills, Sprints, Intervals etc.

6 days per week - Plank and grip

1 day per week - Upper body power workout ( low reps / high weight – about 1/2 an hour)

1 day per week - lower body power workout ( low reps / high weight – about 1/2 an hour) + stairs

3 days per week - Full body functional training ( high reps/ low weight) for at least 2 hours

1 day per week - Plyometrics ( Jumping / Bounding)

1 day per week - Rest

As for the mental side of firefighting, check out this really great article by Fire Cheif Frank Viscuso called ‘The Value of Endurance‘ as the article backs up what I say in My Book.


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Everything that happened at the Rio Games

Bolt’s triple treble, GB’s great medal haul, Phelps’ showstopper, Lochte’s shenanigans, Fiji’s first gold, boos, empty seats, a green pool: we’ve got it all

The Brazilian flag waves off the 2016 Olympics during Sunday’s closing ceremony.
The Brazilian flag waves off the 2016 Olympics during Sunday’s closing ceremony. Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

The big picture

Rio was thrilled to be hosting the Games; then not many people turned up to watch them; then the football gold and a beach volleyball win went Brazil’s way and the firecrackers came out again. And now life goes on for the people of Riomuch as it did before.

Jamaican and general all-round favourite Usain Bolt won and won and won to take his triple treble (not triple triple or three-peat, if you please), and also finished in a dead heat with himself for image of the Games. Was it this?

Canada’s Andre De Grasse, left, and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt smile at the finish line in the semifinal of the men’s 200 meters at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Canada’s Andre De Grasse and Usain Bolt at the finish line in the semifinal of the men’s 200m. Photograph: Frank Gunn/AP

Or this?
Usain Bolt, Andre De Grasse (again), and the rest in the men’s 100m semi-finals.
Usain Bolt, Andre De Grasse (again), and the rest in the men’s 100m semi-finals. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Elaine Thompson made it another Jamaican double with her wins in thewomen’s 100m and 200m.The diving pool went green, but there was nothing to worry about: it definitely wasn’t urine. And that sewage-soaked sailing bayFineas long as you keep your mouth shutLack of wind meant sailors weren’t at much risk of tipping in anyway.Also at no risk of sinking, despite the heavy metals clanking round his neck, was Michael Phelps, retiring – probably – from his fifth Games with five more golds and a wallflower silver to take his record tally to 23 golds, three silvers and two bronzes. Add in the celestial Simone Biles (four gymnastic golds, one bronze), and the pair carried off almost one-fifth of Team USA’s 46 golds between them.Just as greedy were the British track cycling team, every one of whom won a medal. How did they do it, panted left-behind rivals. Here comes the science part. Also: money.A fistful of countries got their hands on Olympic golds for the first time: Singapore’s Joseph Schooling held off Phelps for his; VietnamPuerto Rico,KosovoJordan and Fiji joined the ranks too.South African swimmer Chad Le Clos tried some mind trickery but was seen off by the Phelps face. More successful were his compatriots on the track: Caster Semenya, who bent back the finger-pointers with her win in the women’s 800m, and Wayde van Niekerk, who stylishly crashed through Michael Johnson’s 17-year world record in the men’s 400m.
The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller dives across the finish line ahead of Team USA’s Allyson Felix to win the gold.
The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller sprawls across the finish line ahead of Team USA’s Allyson Felix to win the gold. Photograph: Morry Gash/AP

And the podium of controversies? The booing of French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie as local hero Thiago Braz da Silva boinged his way to gold has to be on there, but pipped by the boxing judging row (succinctly precised by Irish boxer Michael Conlan: “They’re fucking cheats”), and Shaunae Miller’s legal but startling dive across the line to deny Allyson Felix 400m gold.Least fun was had by Russia, denied a track and field team after systematic doping, fourth in the medal table nonetheless, but on the end of some pointed criticisms for Yulia Efimova’s success in the pool, its boxers’ efforts in the ringand, well, generally.But China runs it close in the dissatisfaction stakes: “the worst Olympic flop”scolded state media as the national team finished a lowly … third.The most politically charged moment of the Games was very 2016: South Korea’s Lee Eun-ju’s selfie with gymnastics competitor Hong Un-jong of North Korea.
2016 Rio Olympics - Gymnastics trainingREFILE - CORRECTING ID OF SOUTH KOREAN ATHLETE 2016 Rio Olympics - Gymnastics training - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 04/08/2016. Lee Eun-Ju (KOR) of South Korea (R) takes a selfie picture with Hong Un Jong (PRK) of North Korea. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Lee Eun-ju takes a selfie with Hong Un-jong. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

And the special award for lack of sportsmanship goes to Ryan Lochte and his three partners in time-wasting for what the swimmer called “shenanigans” and the Brazilian police called vandalism and false testimony.

Team GB roundup

Two was the magic number: second in the overall medal table; two more golds for the unbeatable last-lap kick of Mo Farah; two for gymnast Max Whitlockand for cyclist Laura Trott; and 2012 doublings-up for Andy Murray, boxerNicola AdamsJade Jones in taekwondo, triathlete Alistair BrownleeCharlotte Dujardin (and horse Valegro), rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, and Trott and Farah again. The men’s rowers took two golds, in the four and the eight.

Olympics 2016 day fifteenMo Farah shows off his two gold medals earned in wins in the 10,000 and 5,000m after the ceremony for the mens 5,000m during day fifteen of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero on August 20th 2016 in Brazil (Photo by Tom Jenkins).
The golds came marching two by two: Mo Farah shows off his medals.

Second has more painful connotations for Lutalo Muhammad, who dropped to silver with a kick in the head – it’s taekwondo, it’s allowed – in the final, well, second. And for Jessica Ennis-Hill, who ended just 35 points off a heptathlon double gold, but took her second place with pride and praise for her vanquisher, Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam.Jason Kenny (despite the bonus point for remembering to bring his bag for life) mucked up the pattern with his three cycling golds, but that’s doubled his overall haul to six, so this tortured motif still works. Ruining it completely is Bradley Wiggins, a 2016 gold hoisting him to the status of the most decorated British Olympian of all time: eight medals, five of them of the best variety. Katherine Grainger followed suit to become the most decorated British woman, a silver in the women’s double sculls powering her to five medals from five Games.
Laura Trott and fiancé Jason Kenny show off two of the 10 Olympic gold medals they have won between themselves, at the Rio Olympic Velodrome on Tuesday.
Gold medal cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny: you might have heard they’re getting married.

In a generously-medalled Games, there was room for some firsts, too. Getting Team GB on to the gold medal list was Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke. The women’s hockey team clinched two firsts: a breakthrough gold and the first same-sex married couple (Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh) to win alongside each other. Nick Skelton won his first individual equestrian gold at the age of 58. Sixteen-year-old Amy Tinkler won her first medal – and Britain’s first for a woman on the gymnastics floor – with a bronze she called “crazy”.
More: Um Mundo Novo? The Olympic rings leave Rio, rustier but brighter
Justin Rose took the first gold since golf was invited back to the party. SailorsHannah Mills and Saskia Clarkand Giles Scott, won their first golds before they even crossed the finishing line. Jazz Carlin was GB’s first double medallist in Rio, with two swimming silvers. Liam Heath won his first gold in a kayak, Joe Clarke his first in a canoe (yes, they’re different). In the first Olympic outing for rugby sevens, Britain came second, but nobody could mind because gold belonged to Fiji.Britain’s most successful Olympic diver twisted to a gold and a silver, and we learned that his name was Jack Laugher and not Tom Daley. We also learned – and then some immediately forgot – the existence of Daley’s diving partner, Dan Goodfellow. In the interests of non-hypocrisy let’s add Laugher’s gold-winning synchroniser, Chris Mears, here.Total: 27 gold + 23 silver + 17 bronze = 67 medals and 2nd place overall.

Team USA roundup

So, yes, America won. A weighty 121 medals, eclipsing China’s 70 and Britain’s 67 with almost embarrassing ease. Will Team USA miss Phelps in 2020? Given he had a – flipper-sized – hand in just six of the 33 swimming medals won in Rio, they’ll probably get by. After all, there’s still Katie Ledecky (aged 19, four golds, one silver), Simone Manuel (20, two golds, two silvers, already a history-maker), Lilly King (19, two golds), Ryan Murphy (21, three golds) and, oh, too many others to list. It’s a pity the names of Ryan Lochte and co could prove the more memorable.

Michael Phelps: hanging up his goggles.
Michael Phelps: hanging up his goggles. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Team USA was a lap ahead of anyone else in the athletics stadium too, with 32 medals, 13 of them gold, and two of those belonging to Allyson Felix, now the most decorated athlete in US track and field history. A one-two-three for Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin in the women’s 100m hurdles was verging on boasting. Justin Gatlin came into the stadium to boos and left withone silver, in what must surely be his final Games.Wins in the men’s and women’s basketball were utterly expected. Defeat in the women’s beach volleyball and football, and early departures for Venus andSerena Williams (as well as golds for the athletically geriatric Kristin Armstrongand Anthony Ervin) were not.But even the absolutely predictable can be unbelievably beautiful, as Simone Biles and the rest of her final five proved over and over and upside down and over in the women’s gymnastics. Online attacks on Gabby Douglas showed the uglier side.Total: 46 gold + 37 silver + 38 bronze = 121 medals and 1st place overall.
Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 11RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Simone Biles of the United States competes during the Women’s Floor Final at Rio Olympic Arena on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Flipping heck: the incredible Simone Biles. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

On the more humorous side…

Why yes, that is Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe dressed as Super Mario at the closing ceremony. Just 1,432 days until Tokyo 2020 and there’ll be no plumbing issues there. And the stadium will be made of Tetris blocks.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is Super Mario, just because.



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Are the Rio 2016 Olympics safe?

Has 4 years really passed since London 2012? It seems like only yesterday the country was swept up with celebrity torch bearers, Mo Farah, the Queen jumping out of a helicopter, 65 Team GB medals and of course 29 gold post boxes!

Today is the first official day of Rio 2016 and I can’t wait to have nearly three weeks of wall to wall sport followed by the awe inspiring Paralympics. I say official start as the football actually started on Wednsday in order to get it all wrapped up before the end, not that we are involved with the football due to some strange worry about FIFA only recognising a team GB for the rest of time (because we are doing so well separately!). Unlike the last Olympic outing for our athletes these games are far from home and have come under fire for a long list of health and safety risks, not only for the athletes in attendance but also the hundreds of thousands of spectators who are making the pilgrimage from far and wide.

Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio, has tried to allay any fears and told ABC news, “We are working with contingencies, but things are on time, on schedule. We are going to show that Brazil and Rio is something more than nice beaches and great parties and good music and beautiful people”. Even some Olympians themselves have highlighted the negative views being propagated by the media, with rower Megan Kalmoe commenting, “Stop trying to ruin the Olympics for us”.

The list of risks being mentioned is huge but there are three that keep popping up on my newsfeeds;

It is a sad thought that the threat of terrorism is something that can affect people anywhere and would be a worry regardless of the Olympics’ location, this does little to lower people’s concerns though. Only a few weeks ago officials stopped a plot involving ten members of a militant group.

Michelle Bernier-Toth, managing director of the office of overseas citizen services for the American State Department, said that the arrests were “an indication that the Brazilian government is taking the security situation very seriously.” But terrorism is hard to predict, so it is recommended that all travellers take precautionary measures like giving their loved ones a detailed itinerary, staying away from large group gatherings, if possible, and keeping embassy contact information on-hand in case of an emergency.

The most widely reported of the risks is a viral disease mainly spread by mosquitoes. For most people it is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful, however, it may be more serious for pregnant women, as there’s evidence it causes birth defects and it is widely agreed that pregnant women shouldn’t attend the games.

Some have said that flying thousands of people into a Zika hotspot then flying them home again could be a disease control disaster. The World Health Organisation has tried to lower concerns with an open statement saying “”Based on current assessment, canceling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus”. As Rio is now in their cooler winter period the risks of Zika have lowered but all travellers should: consult their GP before travelling to ensure vaccines are up to date, purchase travel insurance and monitor travel warnings for the latest news.

It has been reported that 85,000 soldiers and police will be on duty throughout the Rio games to protect participants and spectators from crime. Brazil has one of the highest murder rates on Earth, with 1,715 homicides in the first six months of 2016 alone. Several athletes have been robbed at gunpoint while out training, including Paralympian sailor Liesl Tesch. Crime has been rising in recent months as a result of rising unemployment and a shortfall in public spending on security.

While very few official bodies have given warnings about traveling to Brazil, it is recommended travellers stay at a hotel with an established security plan, where they have outlined adequate measures to protect their guests, it also important to steer well clear of the city’s “unpacified” favelas.

Yes I would and in my opinion so long as you do a quick risk assessment in your head and action any control measures necessary then the risk of falling foul to any of these is low. There is plenty of dangers and risks everywhere we go and, although the Olympics is used mainly as a very clever and lucrative marketing campaign (a blog for another time), I think the opportunity to see some of the greatest sporting moments of a generation in person is a hard thing to miss even with an element of risk.


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How I managed with dyslexia as a firefighter

When I started work as a firefighter, I wasn’t in a position where I had to do a lot writing for or to other people. At school I taught myself how to memorize things in a most amazing way, because I struggled to read. I listened very well in meetings and when I was briefed about something, my memory was phenomenal.

However after two years in the job as a firefighter, I was offered temporary promotion to Leading Firefighter ( Crew Manager ) where I was in charge of a crew at the front of the fire appliance. It was then that I was being made fun of and being discriminated against. It seemed to take forever for me to read documents, and write reports and messages that were often riddled with errors. There were no computers or spellcheckers around then in the early 1990′s.

In 2005, after 15 years in the Fire Service, I completed a Politics Degree at the University of London and in the process I found out that I had the learning difference called ‘dyslexia’ a year prior. I always wondered why I was told that I am intelligent and full of good ideas and on the other hand can be sloppy and slow when it comes to paperwork. Now the penny dropped.

Just because someone has dyslexia, it does not mean that he or she is in any way less intelligent than his colleagues. In fact, chances are, he or she brings creativity, insight and powerful problem solving skills to your team.

According to Ronald Davis, author of the 2010 book, “The Gift of Dyslexia,” dyslexics think “outside the box” and often excel in entrepreneurship, science and inventions. Polar explorer Ann Bancroft, industrialist Henry Ford, and billionaire businessman Richard Branson all fit this pattern. Other famous and high-achieving dyslexics include physicist Albert Einstein, artist Pablo Picasso, movie director Steven Spielberg, and five-time Olympic gold medalist rower Sir Steven Redgrave.

With effective support, someone with dyslexia can be a valuable asset to your team. You can create a supportive and accepting environment for a dyslexic team member by adapting your communication styles and by providing appropriate resources. Ask what works best for him / her.

The way that she / he perceives the world is unique and can be a catalyst for innovation and success. But Davis also warns that, if not handled properly, the challenges faced by dyslexics can lead to low self-esteem, stress and even depression, which can exacerbate their condition.

Chances are, as the manager of a dyslexic person, you will have challenges to deal with. Changing his role or duties could cause him or her problems as he or she tries to adapt to new processes, for example, so you may need to provide additional training.

Similarly, introducing new technology can mean that you have to help him or her to adopt new ways of working. However, some new technology may really benefit him or her, and boost her engagement and productivity.

It shouldn’t be necessary in any workplace to hide something like dyslexia for fear of being made fun of or being discriminated against — so here are a couple of tips to encourage and protect people with dyslexia:

Tip 1:

Some dyslexic people are reluctant to disclose their condition. They may worry about how it could impact their employment and career prospects, for example, or out of shame at their difficulty in reading and writing.

Tip 2:

People with dyslexia in the U.S. are protected against discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990, and those in the U.K. are covered by the Equality Act 2010. This means that employers need to make “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace so that dyslexic team members have the same opportunities as anyone else.

Wherever you work in the world, talk to your HR department for more information about what legislation applies to your organization.

Dyslexic photo

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