Workplace Wellness: February News

WVU Division of Exercise Physiology joins forces with Active SWV

In 2023, the WVU Division of Exercise Physiology will be piloting a program to directly impact first responders in Monongalia County, beginning with fire fighters in Morgantown

Brian Leary, PhD, with the help of his graduate students will work directly with the stations to create lasting Policy, System, and Environmental changes and make positive impacts on health outcomes for the responders at each station. 

What is effecting first responders?

     In Appalachia, first responders have an especially challenging role. With Covid-19 creating major negative outcomes on rural communities, first responders have faced emergencies with short staff and extended overtime hours. 

     Firefighters are often subject to frequent calls for structural fires due to the amount of dilapidated buildings in the state. West Virginia also ranks second highest in substance dependence disorder, which often means responders are answering back to back overdose calls in a single shift. With short staff and constant mental and physical stress, physical activity and personal health can easily be put on the backburner.

     With assistance from the WVU Division of Exercise Physiology, we aim to create a curriculum that will reach beyond Morgantown to create lasting physical and mental health initiatives in first responder stations all across the state. 

Plan of Action for Morgantown

Active SWV

  • Active SWV will provide training for the CDC backed and evidence based Work@Health program. 
  • $5,000 Capacity Funding Grant
  • Ongoing data collection and analysis


  •  Work with Morgantown fire department to survey and implement physical activity interventions. 
  • Create a curriculum to best work with first responders.
  • Create a published manuscript of outcomes and data collected.   

     Grant funding will help implement physical activity interventions through the purchase of portable equipment to use at each fire station during training sessions. Programming will also focus on creating Policy, System, and Environment (PSE) changes at the stations. Creating these lasting PSE changes will help create sustainable and equitable increases in employee health and happiness. 

     Along with customized interventions through the WVU Division of Exercise Physiology stations will also be certified in the CDC backed and evidence based Work@Health program. This course gives each location a foundation of health and wellness to implement lasting PSE changes. 

Data collection and curriculum creation

     With the creation of this pilot program, Active SWV and the WVU Division of Exercise Physiology plan to create a curriculum based on data collection from this first cohort of first responders. Data collection will examine the effect of programming, what initiatives worked or needed improvement, and many other health related data points. 

     We realize that each first responder group across the state may have differing focus areas for what PSE changes they want to implement. The goal of this pilot program is to create a foundation for other stations to use, while also utilizing the CDC Worksite Health Scorecard, and the Active SWV Employee Wellness Survey to create a total picture of the individual worksites employee health offerings and gaps to success.

     To learn more about this pilot program, or how you can implement PSE changes at your workplace, please contact Workplace Wellness director Michael Fisher to schedule a free Workplace Wellness consultation! 

Michael Fisher | Workplace Wellness Director | [email protected] | 304.254.8488