SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS) — The South Charleston Fire Department is making history by becoming the first department in West Virginia to offer cancer screenings for firefighters.
“Make sure we are [decontaminating] and taking care of ourselves the way that we should,” firefighter and EMT Corey Smith said.
It starts with a single blood test. It’s called Galleri, and South Charleston firefighters said it revolutionizes cancer screenings.
South Charleston was the first department in the state to bring the screenings to its station.
“This type of testing is for early detection, so the sooner that you can see that someone has been diagnosed with cancer, the faster you can get treatments for that,” South Charleston Fire Chief Virgil White said.
The screenings are able to detect more than 50 types of cancer which can give first responders peace of mind.
The issue is an important topic at the fire station. According to Firefighter Cancer Support, 68% of firefighters will develop cancer in their lifetimes as they are exposed to hundreds of chemicals and hazardous substances.
“Somewhat innovative for our state here to get a baseline kind of blood reading for our members,” Smith said.
A simple step that South Charleston Fire Department hopes will grow into a larger effort to protect first responders.
“I am hoping that with us kicking this off being the first in the state that it does take off and other departments are willing to be tested,” White said.