Firemen have one of the more dangerous job in the world. When others run out, they rush in. Fire and smoke aren’t the only hazards that can pose a threat to their health on a daily basis – noise can as well.
Jeff Shupe can attest to that. Shupe is a retired firefighter who still does fire training work for numerous fire departments across the country. He began his career in 1974 where, for over 35 years, he was exposed to uncontrolled emergency scene noise environments.
“The trucks weren’t built to protect from noise,” said Shupe, “It’s only in the past two decades that any advancement in hearing protection has been pushed for firefighters as an occupational concern. It is a fact that most all in my profession will suffer down the road because of the job.”
Jeff first became aware of his hearing loss 15 to 20 years ago during a union-scheduled hearing test. He was one of 50 men selected for a local study on the effects of occupational noise on fire fighters. However, Jeff wasn’t keen on the idea of getting a hearing aid.
“There was vanity involved. I didn’t want a big, clunky hearing aid. That deterred me for a while,” said Shupe. However, he did have someone in his life that “pushed” him to finally get hearing aids – his daughter, Dr. Samantha O’Leary of Audiology Associates of Nashville. “My daughter kept pushing me to get hearing aids. She would tell me constantly ‘you got to do something.’ I expected them to be uncomfortable, but my daughter helped me through that phase.”
In November, Jeff was fit with ReSound LiNX². “They are fantastic,” said Shupe, “I love that they are barely noticeable. The tubing is so small that it looks like a hair and it isn’t noticeable at all.”
The change in sound quality has been noticeable as well. “There’s a big difference between when I have them in and when I have don’t. You miss a lot. If you go out with friends, you miss conversations. Now that I hear better, I can focus and have better quality conversations.”
Jeff’s professional life has been positively impacted by his ReSound LiNX² as well. “When I was speaking at trainings, I use to cup my hand to my ear to hear questions. Now, I can hear the questions clearly,” says Shupe, “I haven’t had to make any adjustments, and I only take them out during water-based trainings.”
“It’s easier to get help now than it was in the past,” said Shupe, “people shouldn’t put it off. The technology is better and the size is so much more discreet.”