Under Pressure

Here’s the thing about police work –  an officer can go from ‘routine’ patrol to a vehicle or foot pursuit in just moments.

This type of acceleration and deceleration can be hard on an officers body and mental state, and long term exposure to such highs and lows can wreck havoc on an officers health.  As such, most officers I know try to combat this with healthy eating, exercise and having a good balance between work and home life.

Here’s an example of how fast an officer’s blood pressure can go up, and how long it can take for the officer’s physical state to return to normal.

Every five years the department sends officer’s off to get a medical check up – blood pressure, mobility, reflexes etc., and I was scheduled to go in the other week while working a day shift. 

About 30 minutes before my appointment, a call came in of a robbery at a drug store. The suspect was alledged to be armed with a knife and fled from the scene on foot.  Shortly after the robbery, a police unit located a possible suspect, and when the officer got out of the police vehicle to check the male, the suspect ran.

I just happened to be in the same block, saw the entire thing, and gave chase in my police vehicle.  The suspect was able to bob and weave through cars and pedestrian traffic, and I was thwarted at every turn by other vehicles and road construction.  I could see the fleeing suspect, but was not able to get close enough to deploy PSD Hondo – it was incredibly frustrating.  As the suspect sprinted down the sidewalk and through a crowd of people, he was intercepted by another officer. 

“Suspect is in custody,” was the update over the radio.  Most excellent.

The officers at the scene had it under control, so I continued on to my medical appointment.  When it came time for the doctor to take my blood pressure, I told him I had just come from a call so I might have a high reading.  In all truth, I expected my blood pressure to be only slightly elevated, so I was taken aback when the doc read out my numbers.

155/80.  Yikes!

Doc asked me about the call, and I told him about chasing the suspect all over hells half-acre.  Doc just shrugged and told me to get my blood pressure checked when I was not on duty.  If my reading was high when off duty, then he would take action.  Until then, no worries.

One of my days off the following week I made the trip into the doctor’s office, and this time I was nice and relaxed.  My BP reading was back to my normal range.

106/62 with a resting heart rate of 60.

That’s more like it.

If anything, it was a great wake up call to keep active and maintain balance in my life – all with the goal of staying healthy so I can better enjoy my personal life and be prepared for my job as a police officer.

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