Several weeks ago I took part in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) 9th Annual Run/Walk that was held at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.
The event was the brainchild of Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira who wanted the Fire Department to annually recognize EMS Week, a time to educate the public’s awareness to what EMS provides on our island.
I’m always impressed and comforted by the fact that the vast majority of our firefighters are in top physical shape as their job can be high stress and quite demanding. Everywhere I turned I saw people within the department that are accomplished swimmers, runners, paddlers and triathletes.
Chief Oliveira pointed me in the direction of Firefighter/EMT-1, Joel Tessier, who was putting on a demonstration for a new company that he had just formed called CrossFit.
Tessier, who was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in Miami, Florida, has always been active in sports and exercises. “I was very active with the Boy Scouts all the way through adolescence,” Tessier said.
It was through his involvement with the Boy Scouts that Tessier became interested in First Aid and water safety which lead to a high school job as a pool lifeguard and a post high school job as a beach lifeguard while he still lived in Florida.
“I started competitive swimming, tennis, and martial arts in my early teens and continued through high school, where I also added wrestling,” he said.
After high school Tessier went on to get involved in endurance sports such as triathlons, mountain biking and adventure racing, but at the heart of all his activities was always surfing.
Tessier believes that his lifeguard experience became a natural progression to becoming a Firefighter/EMT. “I moved to North Carolina shortly after high school to become a firefighter, and I also continued to lifeguard at the local YMCA,” he said.
During his four years in North Carolina Tessier became a personal trainer and started teaching fitness classes which included core strengthening and spinning.
“I moved to the Big Island in pursuit of my childhood dream of becoming a firefighter in Hawaii,” Tessier said.
Two years ago Tessier was assigned to the Kailua-Kona station #7 where he also took a job as a trainer for the Club in Kona. “The Club in Kona was a great place to work, but they didn’t agree with my training methods. This is where I first got the motivation to start my own training facility and to follow the CrossFit philosophy of training,” he said.
“CrossFit aims to change the way people think and feel about fitness. We believe in functional skill based training, with a focus on athletics and injury prevention, which revolves around physical capabilities,” Tessier said.
Tessier believes that the emphasis on workouts should be placed on how much a person can accomplish and not on what that person looks like. “We shy away from the bodybuilding elements, which is mostly about image and aesthetics, not the actual functionality of the body,” he said.
“Our goals for the business are simple; create community, reach out to those who really need this, and find ways to hopefully give back,” Tessier said.
And for Tessier staying in shape is just a part of life. “Although I’m not training for anything in particular right now, I always try to train for life,” he said.
“My exercise week varies a lot and my first priority is surfing,” he said. Tessier will surf at least twice per week, for about two hours each time. “I crossfit three days a week and my sessions are usually an hour and typically touch on all areas of fitness which includes strength, metabolic condition, endurance, flexibility, speed, coordination and agility.”
A big part of his motivation for staying in shape is his love of surfing. “While at work I always want to be prepared for the unexpected. I generally train so I can be sure I’m ready for anything,” Tessier said.
At work in the fire department Tessier will participate in PT (physical training) everyday which usually consists of some type of short run of two miles and swim of 1000 meters in the morning and at least two hours of volleyball in the afternoons. “We work ten days a month so that comes out to three days a week,” he said.
As for diet Tessier strives to eat as organic as possible. “I want my foods to be chemical free, but I don’t want my preference to control my life. I always try and eat using the principles of the paleo and zone diets, but I’m human so I try and eat good most of the time and I don’t beat myself up about the fact that I am less than perfect,” he said.
(The “paleo diet” refers to Professor Loren Cordian’s belief that we should return the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors and the “zone diet” introduced by Dr. Barry Sears wants us to get rid of the “toxic fats” in our daily diet.)
For Tessier his goals in life are simple, “enjoy life and surf more.”
I for one am happy that we have Fire personnel of this physical caliber providing service to our community. Tessier is a prime example of how fit and prepared our fire personnel are by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
For more information about Tessier’s CrossFit training you can visit them at 18 Pohaku Street in Hilo or you can reach him at email@example.com.
The 9th Annual Emergency Medical Services Run/Walk was held this past Sunday starting near the entrance of Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.
More than 700 runners, walkers and joggers laced up their shoes to participate in either the 5K (3.1-mile) run or two-mile walk. The event also hosted a non-competitive keiki quarter-mile run on the grass through Liliuokalani Gardens for children age’s three to ten.
The event was the brainchild of Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira to get the Fire Department to annually recognize EMS Week, a time to educate the public’s awareness to what EMS provides on our island.
“The EMS run/walk is a great opportunity to showcase what we have to the community and it is a chance for us to give back to the community,” Chief Oliveira said.
“We are extremely grateful to all the participants who come out and support our event on a busy Memorial Day weekend,” Chief Oliveira said. “And we are grateful to the numerous local businesses who donate to our event.”
In the competitive 3.1-mile run a group of well known community runners led the first pack of runners through the first half-mile of the race. Billy Barnett, Germain Ortiz, Alan Ryan and Johan Dana took off at the gun and quickly separated themselves from the rest of the harriers.
At one mile the race became a two man effort with Ortiz and Barnnet pushing the pace. Ortiz, who won the EMS in 2007 and placed second overall in the Hilo Marathon this past March, was familiar with the course and experienced in racing.
Both runners exchanged the lead several times before Ortiz pulled out the narrow victory in 17 minutes and 16 seconds with Barnett less than two seconds behind.
“My plan was to stay behind the leader for the first mile,” Ortiz said after the race. “But he (Barnett) was too strong and I didn’t manage to pass him until 1.5 miles.”
But Ortiz lead didn’t last for long as Barnett pulled in front for a second time at the turn-around point. “I caught up to him at the bridge (Suissan) and we were running shoulder to shoulder towards the finish,” Ortiz said.
Barnett made a mistake coming into the finish line at Liliuokalani Gardens when he briefly made a right turn to circle the Gardens in the opposite direction. “That mistake may have cost him the race,” Ortiz said.
“It’s not a problem as I had a good time doing this race,” Barnett said of his mistake. “I just heard about the race last night and signed up this morning. I plan on going for a long run later this morning and just wanted to have fun doing the race.”
Firefighter/Paramedic, Jesse Ebersole services as the race director for the EMS which has seen the race grow each year. This year’s total entries for all three races reached 733, a new high for the EMS, according to Ebersole.
Ebersole decided to run in Sunday’s 5K for only the second time in its nine year history. “I need to do more training and less coordinating,” Ebersole said immediately after crossing the finish line.”
Despite his inability to train on a regular basis Ebersole was still the first Public Safety Employee to cross the line. “I haven’t raced in about two years, but something told me last night that I should give it a try,” Ebersole said.
For the women it was all Sally Marrick as the top Big Island woman in the Hilo Marathon became the overall winner in her first EMS run.
“After the Hilo Marathon I hurt my knee and needed to take three weeks off,” Marrick said. “I’m just getting back to racing and today I felt really good. My goal coming in was just to complete the race and I am very happy with the result.”
Over the past seven years more than $50,000 raised by the EMS event has gone to various health care related charities including the New York Firefighters Widows and Children’s Fund, Hawaii Police Activities League, Hospice of Hilo, Easter Seals of Hawaii, Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry, Hilo Medical Center Emergency Room Expansion, Alzheimer’s Aloha Chapter and several Hawaii Island Residents who were battling Cancer according to Ebersole.
Proceeds from this year’s race are going to a Hawaii Fire Department Firefighter/Paramedic who is battling Cancer, along with the American Cancer Society Hawaii Island.
“I am the race director, however we have a core group who share the responsibilities of coordinating the event,” Ebersole said. “They (coordinators) are Lance Uchida, Darryl Oliveira, Laurie Kaneta, Laura Casey, April Oshiro, Vivian Akine, Jerry Lum, Kainoa Wiley, Ralph Yawata, Garrett Kim and Joyce Cabango.”
“We are supported race day by many dedicated volunteers from the Fire Department and community in general,” Ebersole said.