First responders take 148 million steps toward WalkWorks goal

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Representatives from Chester County’s Fire Chiefs and Police Chiefs Associations and the EMS Council join Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline and Terence Farrell, County Health Department and Emergency Services Department representatives, and two of the three top walkers in revealing the results of the WalkWorks ChesCo! First Responder Challenge. The Chester County Hero Fund is the true winner of the First Responder Challenge with $3,300 being donated in the name of the winning team, TeamFire.

At the Chester County Commissioners Sunshine Meeting this week, Health Department Director Jeanne Casner announced the results of the WalkWorks ChesCo! First Responder Challenge – a competition that asked Chester County residents to support the county’s 5,000-plus emergency responders by joining a first-responder team to compete and see who could walk the most steps in an eight-week period.

During the Challenge, more than 148.3 million steps were taken by members of the three first-responder teams. Team Fire, Team Law Enforcement (LE) and Team Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were each captained by a Chester County Commissioner and were tasked with signing up the most walkers and clocking the most steps.

Close to 400 county residents took part in the First Responder Challenge. Team Fire, captained by County Commissioner Terence Farrell, clocked the highest cumulative steps – more than 53 million.  Team Law Enforcement, captained by County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, registered the highest average individual steps at 8,180 per day.  Team EMS member Yolanda Van de Krol had the highest average daily steps at more than 26,000 a day.

To incentivize team members throughout the Challenge period, the winning team was promised a donation, made in its name, to the Chester County Hero Fund.  The Hero Fund provides financial assistance to the families of Chester County police officers, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics or state troopers who have lost their life, or who are seriously injured in the line of duty. Through contributions made by Metropolitan Communications, ACD Telecom, Belfor, Witmer Public Safety Group and Colonial Hyundai, $3,300 was received by the Chester County Hero Fund, in the name of Team Fire.

“While all three teams were able to claim a winning element of the First Responder Challenge, we know that the real winners are all those who took steps to improve their health by increasing their walking during this challenge, and the Chester County Hero Fund,” said Jeanne Casner.

Bobby Kagel, Director of the Chester County Department of Emergency Services noted:  “Almost half of the deaths that occur in the line of duty for first responders are the result of risks that can be decreased simply by incorporating exercise like walking into a daily routine.  This WalkWorks challenge was not just fun, it was a ‘step forward’ in keeping our responders healthy and safe.  I also thank all the county residents who joined in the challenge to show their support for our first responders.”

WalkWorks ChesCo! is a program that promotes, educates and empowers county residents to adopt a healthier lifestyle one step at a time by creating more places for walking, supporting and promoting walking groups, coordinating walking challenges – and importantly – creating the website that allows everyone to track and tally their steps.  It is the County’s response to the national Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, a two-year competition that empowers cities and counties across the nation to create a positive health impact.  At the end of 2016, the county was selected out of 400 applications as one of 50 members of the HealthCommunity 50 and received $10,000 in community seed funds to establish WalkWorks ChesCo!

In the first nine months of WalkWorks ChesCo!, up to the end of 2017, county residents registered more than 1.5 billion steps.  The goal set for 2018 is to increase that number to five billion steps. If judged the most successful Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge program, Chester County will receive $500,000 which will be used to further enhance health programs for all county residents. The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge is a partnership established between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties.

More information about the WalkWorks ChesCo! program and how to register can be found at www.chesco.org/walkworks.

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