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New ENS chair focuses on first responders

Dave Hostler, new ENS chair

Dave Hostler focuses his research on human performance and the physiological responses of public safety personnel working in protective clothing. Photo: School of Public Health and Health Professions

By DAVID J. HILL

Published October 31, 2013

“Historically, exercise science has been about athletes and performance. More recently, it has become apparent that preventing chronic disease through diet and exercise is cheaper and better than medical treatment.”
Dave Hostler, chair
Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Dave Hostler, an expert in emergency incident rehabilitation, is the new chair of the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Hostler comes to UB from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was an associate professor of emergency medicine and the Department of Emergency Medicine Professor of First Responder Health & Safety. Hostler earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wright State University, and his doctorate in physiology from Ohio University. Hostler began his tenure at UB on Aug. 15; he had been at Pitt since 2001.

Hostler’s research interests focus on human performance and the physiological responses of public safety personnel working in protective clothing. Hostler has 25 years of experience in public safety.

At Pitt, he was a founding faculty member and director of the Emergency Responder Human Performance Lab, for which he directed studies to understand the stresses associ­ated with emergency response and developed interventions to improve the health and safety of the nation’s first responders.

These include the Fireground Rehab Evaluation (FIRE) Trial and the Enhanced Firefighter Rehab Trial (EFFoRT). Additionally, he was principal investiga­tor for the SHIELD Trial examining the role of statin drugs and cardiovascular stress in firefighters.

The Emergency Responder Human Performance Lab has moved with Hostler to UB, occupying part of Sherman and Farber halls. “I’m looking forward to continuing my work with public safety providers in Buffalo,” Hostler says.

At UB, Hostler plans to focus on two key research areas. The first entails addressing the long-term effects on firefighters of the physiologic strain that occurs during fire suppression.

“We know a lot about what happens to the heart and body temperature 20 minutes after, but we know very little about the long-term effects,” says Hostler. “With reaction time and decision-making, that kind of fatigue doesn’t appear right away, but it does surface up to one or two hours later, which would affect firefighters if they had to go to another fire.”

The other line of work will focus on recovery from burns. “There’s a hypermetabolic phase that occurs after a burn, and the larger the burn, the worse the hyper­metabolic response,” Hostler says. “We’ll be looking at exercise and nutrition interventions to hopefully reduce the muscle wasting that occurs during recovery.”

A firefighter and paramedic by training, Hostler served on the county Hazmat team in Pittsburgh.

“I joined SPHHP to be part of a strong program that is continuing to grow. ENS has a strong faculty and a bright future,” he says. “Historically, exercise science has been about athletes and performance. More recently, it has become apparent that preventing chronic disease through diet and exercise is cheaper and better than medical treatment. Placing exercise science and nutri­tion in a School of Public Health is a progressive idea that allows researchers to link the science of physical activity and nutrition to the end users, be they the gen­eral public, underserved communities or, in my case, public safety providers.”