Prevention is the Core Mission

Colorado State University and the CFH Trust team up to bring affordable on site cardiovascular assessments to Colorado firefighters

Contributed by Tiffany Lipsey, M. Ed.
Colorado State University
College of Health and Human Sciences

Cardiovascular related events continue to be the leading cause of on-duty death for those working in the fire service. The State of Colorado passed a law to provide funds for firefighters who suffer a cardiovascular event while on duty. In order to be eligible for these funds, firefighters must:

  1. Be continuously engaged in fire prevention services for five years
  2. Have a medical examination after the date of hire but before a heart incident that would reasonably find the presence of cardiovascular disease
  3. Be diagnosed with a heart incident within 48 hours of a stressful or strenuous work event

A proper heart assessment is a critical component to facilitate the process for determining participants’ eligibility for these state funds. The Colorado Firefighter Heart and Circulatory Benefits Trust (CFH Trust) has partnered with Colorado State University (CSU) to offer a basic, mobile heart disease screening program that can be provided on location at fire agencies throughout Colorado.

What is CORE Screening?

The Cardiac One Risk Evaluation (CORE) screening is a basic heart disease screening program designed especially for Colorado firefighters. The CORE screening is the Level 1 screening process for eligibility for state funds through the CFH Trust and includes: a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram with an interpretation by a cardiologist which may take up to one week, fasting blood glucose (sugar) and lipids (triglycerides, cholesterol, and low and high density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL)), height, weight, waist circumference, resting blood pressure and a review of cardiovascular related health history and lifestyle awareness discussion. The review of these parameters aids in the risk assessment for heart disease.

It is important to note that the CORE screening is not a substitute for primary health care with your physician. However, the results of the screening may assist in other health care decisions if you share them with your physician.

What can you do?

We are looking for host sites to allow CSU staff to perform the basic heart disease screenings in your locale. Host sites will need to provide an area for the screening to occur. Ideally, the area would be an office or other private space. This may be at your fire station or another local agency. Whenever possible, our goal is to avoid any extra space rental fees so that we can allocate the maximum available funds toward the actual assessments.

If you have a smaller department, consider inviting other departments or even members of the local community to participate in the heart screening and lifestyle awareness clinic at your site.

What does it cost?

Bringing CSU’s staff to your area to conduct the screenings costs a flat rate per participant in addition to the cost of travel for the CSU staff. Travel costs are dictated by the State of Colorado travel charge guidelines. The cost for CFH Trust member participants is $50 per screening, while the fee for non-members is $100 per screening. The minimum clinic charge is $500 (or 10 tests) plus the costs of travel.

How does the CFH Trust help?

The CFH Trust strongly believes that prevention is the most effective means of promoting health and longevity among a workforce. To support such efforts, the Trust has provided funding to CSU’s program for the purchase of the necessary equipment to outfit a mobile clinic. Additionally, the Trust has developed a Heart Disease Assessment grant program, which allocates funding to every Trust member to offset up to 50% of the cost of having the assessments completed.

If there are two or more high risk factors uncovered in the Level 1 screening, a Level 2 screening is suggested. The costs discussed above are not inclusive of Level 2 screenings, but CFH Trust grant funds can be used to offset the expense incurred by a Trust participant for further testing.

What else do I need to know?

Fire departments are known for their community support and involvement in the safety, prevention and preparedness of the communities in which they serve. Hosting a heart assessment and lifestyle awareness clinic in your area is a wonderful way to demonstrate that regional support.

This level of analysis by dedicated professionals is not usually available or affordable in rural areas. This is an excellent chance for your community to take advantage of this service for a nominal cost. Hosting this event as part of a community wellness clinic can help give your department the economy of scale needed to offset or even reduce the host department’s travel expense surcharge.

For more information about the CFH Trust or the reimbursement program, visit

About the author

Tiffany Lipsey is an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University and is the Assistant Director of the Human Performance Clinical Research Lab. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Tiffany specializes in firefighter health, job performance, health, and early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

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