I have two programs just for YOU!
I have two programs just for YOU!
Posted by George LaPenta on 01/08/2014 Reblogged By George LaPenta
Do you struggle with finding the time to exercise?
I have 2 excuse busters for you! Focus T25 and P90X3! Both workouts can be done from HOME in 25 to 30 mins! Isn't this a dream come true? Get in and out!
Both programs are currently on sale! Savings up to $90! I will coach you and provide the support you need to succeed!
Join me!! Put the excuses aside and lets go! Msg me NOW! Click the link below or cut and paste.
My goals for 2014 I think are very simple ones. I'm not looking to save the world or become a millionaire, although with this system it is very possible. Well to be a millionaire at least..:) Saving the world is way above my pay grade. Anyhow, here's my list.
1: To be able to have more time with my family
2: To be able to retire and actually NOT have to work again
3: Financial freedom for my entire family
4: To be debt free
So there they are. Not too outlandish, right? I hope you all are having a great new year so far and I hope that you're blessed enough to attain your goals.
ReBlog from my EN Blog
Posted by George LaPenta on 01/06/2014 Reblogged By George LaPenta
What's the Difference between Paleo and the +RESET Food Plan?
"Paleo" is short for paleolithic and refers to the diet of primitive man which, by the way, has some great points. However, the proponents of the trendy new diet version are often fanatical and preach an ideal that may or may not be useful depending on your needs.
RESET is not based on an ideal but instead designed to address the physiological disturbances of the pancreas (sugar issues), digestion, high cholesterol, and weight issues. As balance and normal function is restored, the plan changes to become less strict.
For example: coffee, cheese, and protein powders are allowed on RESET but because these items were not consumed by primitive man they would not be allowed on Paleo (strictly speaking).
The good news is that Paleo is strict about avoiding grains, sugars, and starches which, in that regard, is great for resetters (people on RESET). You could say that Paleo recipes are ok on RESET but not necessarily vice versa.
Holitic Doctor | Natural Medicine
Long but good article on cardio exercise.
Exercise and Cardiovascular Health
+ Author Affiliations
Over the past 4 decades, numerous scientific reports have examined the relationships between physical activity, physical fitness, and cardiovascular health. Expert panels, convened by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and the American Heart Association (AHA),1–3 along with the 1996 US Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health,4 reinforced scientific evidence linking regular physical activity to various measures of cardiovascular health. The prevailing view in these reports is that more active or fit individuals tend to develop less coronary heart disease (CHD) than their sedentary counterparts. If CHD develops in active or fit individuals, it occurs at a later age and tends to be less severe.
As many as 250 000 deaths per year in the United States are attributable to a lack of regular physical activity. In addition, studies that followed large groups of individuals for many years have documented the protective effects of physical activity for a number of noncardiovascular chronic diseases, such as non–insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and colon cancer.4 In contrast, we see a higher rate of cardiovascular events and a higher death rate in those individuals with low levels of physical fitness.1,4 Even midlife increases in physical activity, through change in occupation or recreational activities, are associated with a decrease in mortality.5 Despite this evidence, however, the vast majority of adults in the United States remains effectively sedentary; less than one-third of Americans meets the minimal recommendations for activity as outlined by the CDC, ACSM, and AHA expert panels.
Next Section What Are the Benefits of Exercise?
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the 5 major risk factors (along with high blood pressure, abnormal values for blood lipids, smoking, and obesity) for cardiovascular disease, as outlined by the AHA. Evidence from many scientific studies shows that reducing these risk factors decreases the chance of having a heart attack or experiencing another cardiac event, such as a stroke, and reduces the possibility of needing a coronary revascularization procedure (bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty). Regular exercise has a favorable effect on many of the established risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For example, exercise promotes weight reduction and can help reduce blood pressure. Exercise can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood (the low-density lipoprotein [LDL] level), as well as total cholesterol, and can raise the “good” cholesterol (the high-density lipoprotein level [HDL]). In diabetic patients, regular activity favorably affects the body’s ability to use insulin to control glucose levels in the blood. Although the effect of an exercise program on any single risk factor may generally be small, the effect of continued, moderate exercise on overall cardiovascular risk, when combined with other lifestyle modifications (such as proper nutrition, smoking cessation,and medication use), can be dramatic.
Benefits of Regular Exercise on Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Increase in exercise tolerance
Reduction in body weight
Reduction in blood pressure
Reduction in bad (LDL and total) cholesterol
Increase in good (HDL) cholesterol
Increase in insulin sensitivity
There are a number of physiological benefits of exercise; 2 examples are improvements in muscular function and strength and improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen (maximal oxygen consumption or aerobic capacity). As one’s ability to transport and use oxygen improves, regular daily activities can be performed with less fatigue. This is particularly important for patients with cardiovascular disease, whose exercise capacity is typically lower than that of healthy individuals. There is also evidence that exercise training improves the capacity of the blood vessels to dilate in response to exercise or hormones, consistent with better vascular wall function and an improved ability to provide oxygen to the muscles during exercise. Studies measuring muscular strength and flexibility before and after exercise programs suggest that there are improvements in bone health and ability to perform daily activities, as well as a lower likelihood of developing back pain and of disability, particularly in older age groups.
Patients with newly diagnosed heart disease who participate in an exercise program report an earlier return to work and improvements in other measures of quality of life, such as more self-confidence, lower stress, and less anxiety. Importantly, by combining controlled studies, researchers have found that for heart attack patients who participated in a formal exercise program, the death rate is reduced by 20% to 25%. This is strong evidence in support of physical activity for patients with heart disease. Although the benefits of exercise are unquestionable, it should be noted that exercise programs alone for patients with heart disease have not convincingly shown improvement in the heart’s pumping ability or the diameter of the coronary vessels that supply oxygen to the heart muscle.
Previous SectionNext Section How Much Exercise Is Enough?
In 1996, the release of the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health provided a springboard for the largest government effort to date to promote physical activity among Americans. This historic turning point redefined exercise as a key component to health promotion and disease prevention, and on the basis of this report, the Federal government mounted a multi-year educational campaign. The Surgeon General’s Report, a joint CDC/ACSM consensus statement, and a National Institutes of Health report agreed that the benefits mentioned above will generally occur by engaging in at least 30 minutes of modest activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Modest activity is defined as any activity that is similar in intensity to brisk walking at a rate of about 3 to 4 miles per hour. These activities can include any other form of occupational or recreational activity that is dynamic in nature and of similar intensity, such as cycling, yard work, and swimming. This amount of exercise equates to approximately five to seven 30-minute sessions per week at an intensity equivalent to 3 to 6 METs (multiples of the resting metabolic rate*), or approximately 600 to 1200 calories expended per week.
Note that the specific phrase “…30 minutes of accumulated activity…” is used in the above-mentioned reports. It has been shown that repeated intermittent or shorter bouts of activity (such as 10 minutes) that include occupational and recreational activity or the tasks of daily living have similar cardiovascular and other health benefits if performed at the moderate intensity level with an accumulated duration of at least 30 minutes per day. People who already meet these standards will receive additional benefits from more vigorous activity.
Many of the studies documenting the benefits of exercise typically use programs consisting of 30 to 60 minutes of continuous exercise 3 days per week at an intensity corresponding to 60% to 75% of the individual’s heart rate reserve. It is not usually necessary, however, for healthy adults to measure heart rate diligently because substantial health benefits can occur through modest levels of daily activity, irrespective of the specific exercise intensity. In fact, researchers estimate that as much as a 30% to 40% reduction in cardiovascular events is possible if most Americans were simply to meet the government recommendations for activity.
Recommendation for Physical Activity From the CDC/ACSM Consensus Statement and Surgeon General’s Report
Every American adult should participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.
Moderate activities: activities comparable to walking briskly at about 3 to 4 miles per hour; may include wide variety of occupational or recreational activities, including yard work, household tasks, cycling, swimming, etc.
Thirty minutes of moderate activity daily equates to 600 to 1200 calories of energy expended per week.
Previous SectionNext Section Physical Fitness and Mortality
One need not be a marathon runner or an elite athlete to derive significant benefits from physical activity. In fact, the Surgeon General’s physical activity recommendations seem surprisingly modest. One reason for this is that the greatest gains in terms of mortality are achieved when an individual goes from being sedentary to becoming moderately active. Studies show that less is gained when an individual goes from being moderately active to very active. In a study performed among US veterans, subjects were classified into 5 categories according to fitness level. The largest gains in terms of mortality were achieved between the lowest fitness group and the next lowest fitness group. The researchers studied 6213 men over a 6-year period and compared the risks of death (after allowing for age adjustment) by gradients of physical fitness.6 The Figure shows the relative risks associated with the different categories (1 to 5, lowest to highest) of fitness measured. Healthy adults who are the least fit have a mortality risk that is 4.5 times that of the most fit. Surprisingly, an individual’s fitness level was a more important predictor of death than established risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. This study, along with others, underscores the fact that fitness and daily activity levels have a strong influence on the incidence of heart disease and overall mortality.
View larger version:
Age-adjusted mortality rates in healthy men categorized by level of fitness. The range of values for exercise capacity (METs) for each category are represented within each bar (modified from reference 6).
Previous SectionNext Section What Are the Risks of Exercise?
During exercise, there is a transient increase in the risk of having a cardiac-related complication (for example, a heart attack or serious heart rhythm disorder). However, this risk is extremely small. For adults without existing heart disease, the risk of a cardiac event or complication ranges between 1 in 400 000–800 000 hours of exercise. For patients with existing heart disease, an event can occur an average of once in 62 000 hours.2,3 Importantly, the risk of a cardiac event is significantly lower among regular exercisers. Evidence suggests that a sedentary person’s risk is nearly 50 times higher than the risk for a person who exercises about 5 times per week. Stated simply, individuals who exercise regularly are much less likely to experience a problem during exercise. Moreover, contrary to popular view, the majority of heart attacks (approximately 90%) occur in the resting state, not during physical activity.
Exercise is therefore considered to be extremely safe. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to be aware of the warning signs or symptoms that may indicate a problem: chest discomfort (pain or pressure in the chest, jaw, or neck, possibly radiating into the shoulder, arm, or back), unusual shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness, and heart rhythm abnormalities (sensations of heart beat skipping, palpitations, or thumping). If one of these symptoms occurs, medical attention should be sought immediately (see also Cardiology Patient Page by Ornato JP, Hand MM. Warning signs of a heart attack. Circulation. 2001;104:1212-1213).
Previous SectionNext Section How Should You Begin if You Want to Become More Physically Active?
First, if you currently have heart disease or are over 45 years of age and have 2 or more risk factors (immediate family member with heart disease before age 55, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, or obesity), you should consult your physician before starting any type of exercise.2 Clearly, most people can derive significant benefits from integrating a half hour of moderate activity into their day. If you know you simply cannot or will not set aside a half hour of activity on a given day, then try to work more activities into the day by taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or try walking rather than driving a short distance to the store. Try to work several shorter periods of activity, such as 10 minutes, into your schedule. The most important thing is to get started. There is mounting evidence in the scientific literature that physical activity and physical fitness have a powerful influence on a host of chronic diseases, a fact underscored by the recent Surgeon General’s report on Physical Activity and Health.4 Reducing the risk of heart disease through greater physical activity could have an enormous impact on health in the United States.⇓⇓
On Boylston Street abandoned cell phones rang and nobody answered.
The street, filled with Boston Marathon runners and spectators earlier in the afternoon, had been thrown into chaos by bombs set off outside the Forum restaurant and Marathon Sports just before 3 p.m.
The blasts stripped leaves from trees; half-burned $20 bills floated in the wind. In suddenly empty restaurants full plates of untouched or half-eaten meals sat on tables, left behind with purses, wallets, backpacks and other personal items by the wounded and other survivors as they rushed to safety.
A handful of distinct sounds lingered: The restaurants' piped-in music; fire alarms that would continue sounding into the night; glass crackling under foot, its timbre changing as investigators stepped from carpet to hardwood floors to concrete sidewalks.
And, the ringing cell phones.
"In the back of my mind, I was thinking about the yet uncaught bombers targeting us as we worked," said Trooper Jeremy J. Cotton, a bomb technician with the Massachusetts State Police Hazardous Devices Unit – the bomb squad – in a series of recent interviews with The Republican. "Were they calling the phones trying to set another bomb off? I blocked it out and continued to work."
Cotton, of South Hadley, was among the hundreds of emergency responders who descended on Boylston Street in the aftermath of the April 15 bombings. In the immediate hours after the blasts, Cotton and other bomb technicians from local, state and federal squads – who would eventually coalesce into a single ad hoc explosive ordnance disposal unit based at the Lenox Hotel – were charged with clearing the scene and ensuring no additional devices lay in wait.
On the day after the bombings, Cotton and other technicians joined the efforts of an FBI-coordinated "post-blast team" for the slow, methodical task of processing the scene for evidence.
"It was our job to dig, sift, locate, mark and categorize absolutely every shred of evidence we could find in the most intricate detail possible," Cotton said, adding: "As we learned the names of the dead, the victims, the injuries suffered, it became personal, and we were hell bent on making sure we did the best job we could."
Sgt. William P. Qualls, the bomb squad's commander, said the marathon attack and ensuing manhunt for brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev condensed an unprecedented combination of complex scenarios – a mass-casualty incident, a post-blast investigation, live devices, and active shooters – into a single week.
"We'd been training and preparing for something like this for a long time," Qualls said.
The attacks propelled demand for the squad's services in providing security at high-profile events, and for training sessions delivered by squad members.
In the eight months since the bombings, Massachusetts State Police bomb squad technicians have led over two dozen training sessions, sharing their experiences and lessons learned with agencies across the country and in Europe and Australia.
The presentation they offer, which takes a multimedia approach and presents elements including audio of radio traffic and video of helicopter footage, lasts roughly three hours, with an additional 45 minutes for questions and answers. It covers the squad's perspectives on issues ranging from personal protective equipment to collaboration with tactical and SWAT teams.
"The end goal is to educate people in terms of, 'Hey, here's what we did; when it happens to you, you should be prepared and look out for this'," Qualls said. "And they're all walking away with that message."
In a 2012 file photo, Trooper Jeremy J. Cotton investigates a suspicious package reported at a Chicopee Home Depot store.Greg Saulmon | The Republican
The bomb squad is one of two State Police units assigned to the office of the state Fire Marshal's Fire and Explosion Investigation Section. Its 11 bomb technicians include seven troopers and four sergeants; nine Labrador retrievers trained in explosives recognition round out the roster.
Prospective bomb-squad members complete FBI physical, background, and psychological tests, followed by an exam that tests the candidate's problem solving abilities, physical endurance, and tolerance for claustrophobic situations. Training begins at the FBI's Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.; the process from initial testing to becoming a working bomb technician can take three years.
Cotton, who began his career as a Northampton police officer – following in the footsteps of his father, John W. Cotton, a lieutenant with the department who later served as police chief in Williamsburg and Ashfield – said he was one of roughly 40 who tried out for four positions.
Qualls, of Plymouth, is a 20-year State Police veteran, with 16 years as a member of the bomb squad. In 2011, Qualls was one of three sergeants awarded the Medal of Merit for their work in updating Massachusetts laws on bombs and explosives. Passed in 2010, the legislation's updates included provisions making it illegal to possess components that could be used to build a destructive or incendiary device. The week of the marathon bombings he was in Zvolen, Slovakia with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contingent, conducting trainings with NATO on homemade explosives.
Qualls said the bomb squad is on pace to record 1,300 service calls in 2013 – nearly 300 more calls than in 2012. The types of calls vary widely, and include suspicious package investigations; ammunition pickup and the disposal of roughly 120 pieces of military ordnance found each year; and the training sessions the squad offers.
Other calls involve security sweeps ahead of visits from dignitaries and large-scale public events, such as Boston's Fourth of July celebration and Gillette Stadium events, including New England Patriots games.
The marathon bombings, Qualls said, set a new level of demand for the unit's work; this year brought the first time bomb squad technicians were called upon to join security details before concerts at Tanglewood in Lenox, and at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield.
On an average day, Qualls said, the unit handles three calls. The week following the marathon bombing brought 200 calls, from suspicious device investigations to requests for sweeps by the unit's explosive-sniffing dogs.
In addition to the State Police unit, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and three cities – Springfield, Boston and Cambridge – maintain the state's only bomb squads.
On Dec. 16, city councilors in Cambridge approved a $485,000 spending transfer to make the city's bomb squad a full-time operation, adding members and outfitting them with the necessary equipment.
Coverage for the rest of Massachusetts falls to the State Police bomb squad. Headquartered in Weston, and with offices in Northampton and at the fire marshal's office in Stow, the unit's members stand ready to respond to any corner of the state – from Martha's Vineyard to North Adams – within 45 minutes.
Two men in hazardous materials suits place evidence markers as they investigate the scene at the first bombing on Boylston Street in Boston Tuesday, April 16, 2013 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad technicians assisted in processing evidence at the blast sites.File photo | The Associated Press | Elise Amendola
"When a bomb goes off,"Cotton said, "things don't just disappear. They turn into smaller pieces."
The investigation of an explosion requires bomb technicians and their law enforcement colleagues to assemble an intricate puzzle that may reveal the size of the device and how it was made, where it was placed, and how much potential power it held.
One training module for post-blast investigations, Cotton recalled, involved a box truck blown up in a quarry. The trainees took a week to rebuild the truck, reassembling everything down to the device's timing system.
"You see the damage that's been done; you have an idea of how big the bomb was," Cotton said. "You're looking for fragmentation of a trash can. You're looking to see where it went off. You're looking to see the types of injuries."
Qualls added, "The furthest piece of evidence you can find from the device is just as important as the closest piece of evidence to the seat of the blast."
Bomb technicians will typically work at the epicenter, due to the possibility a device didn't fully function or left behind volatile explosive material or residue.
Investigators search for pieces of the device itself, as well as "added elements" such as shrapnel – anomalies that otherwise don't belong at the scene.
"A lot of investigative leads can be derived from the device itself," Qualls said. "Where was the device purchased from? How was it manufactured?"
Details about where the device was placed help investigators narrow down which security cameras to review for footage; information about the size of the device yields clues about how the suspects transported it to the scene.
"Once you start thinking about - here's the device, here's what we believe the size of the device to be, here's maybe how it was packaged, then you can start looking for backpacks, and who may be carrying backpacks," Qualls said.
Identifying the type of device, Qualls and Cotton said, is a critical step in figuring who built it and who set it off.
The marathon bombs, described in the indictment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were improvised explosive devices (IEDS) built from basic materials: pressure cookers, low explosive powder, shrapnel. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the documents state, obtained eight pounds of the low explosive powder through the purchase of 48 mortars from Phantom Fireworks in Seabrook, N.H, last February.
"IEDs constructed in this manner are designed to shred flesh, shatter bone, and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death," the indictment states.
As the search for the bombers proceeded at breakneck speed around Greater Boston, bomb technicians and other investigators worked at the seat of the blast in Tyvek suits, gloves, and boots as they scoured gutters and rooftops for anything that might help construct some sense of who was behind the attack.
"You're going a million miles an hour on Monday, and then on Tuesday you're at a half-mile-an-hour pace because you're combing everything, and you don't want to miss a single shred of evidence," Cotton said. "And everything has to be done perfect, because you don't have a second chance to make that happen. You get one shot to make it happen, and one shot to do it right."
In a 2006 file photo, Trooper Jeremy Cotton participates in a Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad demonstration to show the dangers of popular fireworks. In addition to responding to calls for suspicious packages or abandoned military ordnance, bomb squad technicians conduct numerous education, training, and outreach programs.File photo | The Republican
Education has long been a core component of the bomb squad's work.
Qualls attributes the unit's high call volume – on par with New York and Los Angeles, despite the much larger squads in those cities – in part to the outreach his team does with local police and fire departments across Massachusetts.
"We have a very good understanding with all the fire chiefs and police chiefs as to what we can do, what we can provide, and when you should call us," Qualls said.
The squad was already offering training sessions and seminars prior to the marathon bombings, but the squad's experience and word of its performance during the crisis led to new audiences.
In recent weeks squad members have conducted sessions in Nevada, Florida and Connecticut, and for Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Agencies requesting the seminars cover the costs; often, Qualls said, one presentation yields several additional requests.
"We're definitely on the circuit tour right now," Qualls said.
The seminars cover a range of topics, from security and prevention tactics, to the squad's response and role in the investigation, to training and equipment.
Questions about gear – from small robotics, fiber optics and hand tools, to personal protective equipment – come up frequently, Qualls said. "What are you guys using? We want to know," is a common refrain.
The marathon response, Qualls and Cotton explained, forced squad members to reconsider some of the trade's conventional wisdom regarding protective gear.
"We're taught in bomb school: pretty much, you should always wear your bomb suit," Qualls said. "But it's a basic level of training. Because you want to think – worst case scenario, what would provide you with the most protection? The bomb suit."
In certain scenarios, though, squad members determined the suit – roughly 100 pounds of body armor and bullet-proof glass – is impractical. Technicians wearing the suit can develop what Qualls described as tunnel vision, failing to see crucial pieces of evidence or information in a scene. And, in the suit, simple actions become feats of intense physical labor. In one of the early certification tests, potential bomb squad members must complete a series of tasks while wearing the suit, the last of which requires them to stoop to pick a coin up off the ground. In the Alabama heat, the "coin test" is the point at which some recruits fail out of the program.
Clearing the scene on Boylston Street, with the hundreds of bags left behind – each representing a potential threat – took roughly six hours, and squad members found themselves balancing the need to guard their own safety with the need to work efficiently.
"The guys originally thought it was a bombing campaign, and when is the next one going to go?" Qualls said. "There were hundreds of bags up and down Boylston Street because everyone just ran. Any one of those could be the next device."
Cotton added: "In a scenario like that it's impossible to do it in the suit; we would have been there three weeks. You have to get the scene clear."
The squad's experience clearing the Boylston Street scene led to what Qualls called a "downsizing" of standard protective equipment worn in certain circumstances, in an effort to more efficiently manage large scenes. By the time the squad performed its role in providing security at Boston's annual Fourth of July celebration, the list of standard equipment had been trimmed further still.
"We even downsized from the original downsizing," Qualls said, explaining the need for members to quickly cover large swaths of ground.
"Are we taking a risk or taking chances? Potentially, but they're not unnecessary risks," Qualls said. "We're doing a threat assessment."
In relating the strategy to squads around the country and the world, Qualls said: "To them, they're standing there like – their jaws drop open. They can't believe we have this mindset. But the fact is, we haven't reinvented the wheel. It's been done in the past. We're just applying it to avenues or venues that had not been applied before, especially stateside."
There were hundreds of bags up and down Boylston Street because everyone just ran. Any one of those could be the next device. - Sgt. William Qualls
Managing communications among the large number of agencies proved to be another challenge during the marathon response.
To improve the flow of information, all of the bomb squads and technicians involved formed a single explosive ordnance disposal command, operating out of the Lenox Hotel at the intersection of Boylston and Exeter streets. For the duration of the week, any call for service, anywhere in the state, was dispatched from the command.
"It has to be noted that this was a group effort," Qualls said, with no individual or squad doing more work than any other.
"We worked very well together because it was based on personal relationships with all the EOD personnel in Massachusetts," he added. The effort also brought squads from Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, and the Navy to assist. "Everyone worked very well because we know each other."
Cotton agreed the approach improved the operation's efficiency. "We aren't co-workers; we are a family," he said of the small community of bomb technicians; the nation's approximately 2,200 bomb technicians represent a fraction of its 1 million sworn law enforcement officers.
"It wasn't uncommon to pair up with Boston, the FBI, ATF or a Connecticut State Police tech. Everyone was here, and everyone wanted to help. It was surreal, the mood was somber, and we bonded," Cotton said.
The value of preparing mentally to work in an unimaginably chaotic environment has been another of the seminars' common themes.
While all bomb technicians leave the initial training program at roughly the same skill level, Qualls said: "You also have to realize that the operational experience after that is where you really build up your skillset. It's my belief, for my guys, that it takes a good two to three years before one bomb tech can handle almost anything presented to him."
That two- to three-year time frame, though, is based on the high "operational tempo" of the Massachusetts squad, with its 1,000-plus calls per year – over 100 per squad member. Some squads, Qualls said, see only five to 10 calls in a year. Under those circumstances, he explained, "All they know, all they go back to, is basic bomb school."
Messages about the chaos of an attack like the marathon bombings – chaos that can only be understood through experience – resonated with the Marines of Camp Lejeune.
"To a man – and they just got back from Afghanistan – they said, 'Yeah, absolutely'," Qualls recalled. "As soon as that first bullet is fired, or that first explosion goes off, you've got this fog of battle, fog of war element. So that's where your training kicks in."
Of his own unit's response to the Boston bombings, Qualls added: "We had a couple of lapses. A couple of moments where people had to fight a little bit harder through that fog."
Sharing those experiences – the successes and the deep challenges – has been a valuable teaching tool.
"We tell them, you can spend as much money as you want on equipment and training, but when the event happens – unless you're mentally prepared – it's not going to help you," Qualls said.
In February, some State Police bomb squad members will be the unit's first to participate in Super Bowl security, at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. And, in the year ahead, there will be more speaking engagements, nationally and internationally.
"We're not out there to say you need to do this, you need to do that – we're just telling them our story," Qualls said of the squad's training efforts. "And then it's going to be up to them to figure out, do they have the right people? Number one. Do they think that when the crap hits the fan that their guys will rise to the occasion? And hopefully they walk out of that, and they do a lot of self-assessing."
Observations about how a community pulls together in the wake of a tragedy have been among the lessons that have stuck with Cotton.
After responding to the scene unprepared for a multiple-day commitment, he and other first responders found a haven at the Lenox Hotel, which provided free rooms and food. In the room where he fought for short bursts of sleep between grueling shifts, the previous guests had left clothes and luggage in the evacuation. Cotton found himself brushing his teeth with a stranger's toothbrush, brand-new but left behind on the sink.
The generosity of the hotel owners, Cotton said, captures the spirit of the city in the days and months after the bombings.
When the week was over, Cotton said he slept for stretches of 16 hours as he began to process the week's emotional toll.
"I am continually reminded of the resolve of the citizens of Boston," Cotton wrote in an email during the reporting of this story. "The City has begun to heal but they will never forget. I find such strength in following the survivors' stories, the families who lost a loved one, how they continue to stay positive and make forward progress with their lives. They in my opinion are the heroes. God bless Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Sean Collier and Lu Lingzi. May they never be forgotten."