Denise Smith, professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore College, recently co-authored a study titled, "Firefighting and the Heart: Implications for Prevention."
Smith's research, which seeks to improve firefighters' physiological responses during emergency calls, was published in the scientific journal Circulation, as well as in an April 1, 2017 Associated Press report which was carried by more than 30 news organizations, including a US News and World Report article titled "Firefighters Join Study to Help Reduce Line-Of-Duty Deaths."
A significant portion of Dr. Smith's research focuses on the cardiovascular strain associated with firefighting activity. She has published dozens of scientific articles about the effects of firefighting on cardiovascular function, coagulatory potential, immune function and hormonal status, and she has lead several government-funded studies to investigate strategies to minimize the physiological strain associated with firefighting.
Professor Smith has also conducted extensive laboratory studies designed to identify specific components of firefighting activity (work performed, heat stress, sympathetic nervous stimulation) that are responsible for specific physiological responses to the combined stress of firefighting.
Professor Smith established the First Responder Health and Safety Research Center at Skidmore College. The Center's mission is to enhance the health, safety and performance of first responders by conducting scientific research elucidating the dangers faced by first responders, and developing and testing interventions to mitigate those dangers.
In September 2016, Skidmore College was awarded $1,467,062 in federal funding by U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The funds were allocated through the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Fire Prevention & Safety (FP&S) program to advance Dr. Smith's research and the Science Medicine And Research & Technology for Emergency Responders (SMARTER) program.
Through this project, Dr. Smith is working to advance technology by developing and implementing systems that focus on early detection of physiological abnormalities and real-time monitoring of toxic particulates that threaten the health of firefighters.
Dr. Smith has researched the cardiovascular strain of firefighting for over 25 years, is highly active in the Fire Service and has collaborated with many national organizations (including the NVFC, IAFF, IAFC, NFPA) and has conducted numerous line-of-duty fatality investigations due to cardiac issues for NIOSH. She has co-authored two text books and published over 20 peer-reviewed articles related to firefighter cardiovascular health.