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This special episode of EMS One-Stop is part of 2023 First Responder Wellness Week. Do you want to improve your physical fitness, increase your resiliency, eat better and sleep longer? Get started with videos, articles and other resources at You can also learn more about what Lexipol is doing to support health, wellness and safety among first responders.

In this special First Responder Wellness Week episode of EMS One-Stop, Host Rob Lawrence welcomes Mike Taigman and Kevin Pannell to discuss the many facets of wellness, why wellness is essential for first responders, and easy tips for getting started to improve fitness, nutrition, stress management and more.


Memorable quotes

“The work we do involves your cognitive abilities to think well and sort out challenging situations for patients and calls and circumstances. You’ve got to lift people and move them and those kinds of things, so there’s a whole physical component, and the stress management is absolutely part of the wellness, and if you don’t kind of have a handle on that, there’s a lot of stresses this world presents to you – and poorly managed stress, we know, tears down your physical, psychological and emotional wellness.” —Mike Taigman

“If you’re in EMS or fire and you can’t carry the med box in one hand and the defibrillator in another up two flights of steps and you’re gassed and you can’t work when you get there, then you’re useless. And, for police, if you can’t wrestle with somebody because you’re exhausted in 30 seconds, it’s a problem.” —Kevin Pannell

Together, they offer tips like:

  • Pay attention to your plant-to-processed food ratio
  • Start with pushups. You don’t need all the equipment they have at the CrossFit Games, Pannell notes. “You can get a smokin’ workout from just you and the ground.” Or take a walk.
  • Take a holistic approach to fitness (weightlifting, something that makes you breathe hard and stretching); it’s about balance

About our guests

Mike Taigman uses more than four decades of experience to help EMS leaders and field personnel improve the care/service they provide to patients and their communities. Mike is the Improvement Guide for FirstWatch, a company which provides near-real time monitoring and analysis of data along with performance improvement coaching for EMS agencies.

He teaches Improvement Science in the Master’s in Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership at the University of California San Francisco and the Emergency Health Services Management Graduate Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Kevin Pannell works in program and project management in the healthcare IT space. He has previous experience as a public safety and military veteran, and produces wellness content.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Rob Lawrence has been a leader in civilian and military EMS for over a quarter of a century. He is currently the director of strategic implementation for PRO EMS and its educational arm, Prodigy EMS, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and part-time executive director of the California Ambulance Association.

He previously served as the chief operating officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority (Virginia), which won both state and national EMS Agency of the Year awards during his 10-year tenure. Additionally, he served as COO for Paramedics Plus in Alameda County, California.

Prior to emigrating to the U.S. in 2008, Rob served as the COO for the East of England Ambulance Service in Suffolk County, England, and as the executive director of operations and service development for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. Rob is a former Army officer and graduate of the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served worldwide in a 20-year military career encompassing many prehospital and evacuation leadership roles.

Rob is a board member of the Academy of International Mobile Healthcare Integration (AIMHI) as well as chair of the American Ambulance Association’s State Association Forum. He writes and podcasts for EMS1 and is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Connect with him on Twitter.