Helping Local Firefighters Hear Better

Helping Local Firefighters Hear BetterThe Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) is working to help local firefighters understand the importance of hearing protection thanks to a unique outreach and screening opportunity started by a student.

Kristen Ramos, a second-year audiology student in the Salus University Osborne College of Audiology, came up with the idea under the supervision of Dr. Lindsay Bondurant, director of PEI.

“The firefighting profession lends itself to high levels of noise exposure,” Ramos said. “We want to not only raise awareness but to also provide preventative measures to help firefighters preserve their hearing.”

The pair began with a visit to the Ogontz Fire Company in Elkins Park in the fall where they took sound level measurements of the fire truck, the engine, air compressors and the sirens.

A normal conversation is about 60 decibels, which is loud enough for both people to hear each other clearly. The measurements that were taken at the fire house averaged about 120 decibels – more than twice above the safe range.

After consolidating all of their data, the plan is to present the findings to the firefighters and following the presentation, hearing screenings will be provided. Anyone who fails the screenings will be referred to PEI for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

“With that we can get a clear picture of what their hearing looks like,” Ramos said. “We’re also hoping to get custom ear mold impressions so that we can provide them with hearing protection.”

Helping Local Firefighters Hear Better
While the goal is to educate firefighters on hearing conservation, for Ramos, it’s about so much more.

“They are all volunteer firefighters who are dedicated and passionate about saving people’s lives,” said Ramos. “I wanted to do something to give back to them and this was the perfect opportunity.