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Transcript: Protecting the At-Risk Ears of Firefighters and Law Enforcement

A hand flips a red switch from the "off" position, then presses an ignition button to start the engine.

The man in the driver's seat of the vehicle reaches over to turn on a siren, which begins wailing. He wears sunglasses and a headset with microphone attached.

We follow the fire truck from the angle of a camera that mounted to the driver's side door. The truck makes a wide turn onto a street.

From overhead, we see a long white ladder resting on the top of the truck.

CHRISTOPHER: We're in a lot of different elements.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          Christopher Strom

                                    Captain, Minneapolis Fire Department

CHRISTOPHER: We go to shooting scenes. We go to heart attacks. We go to people that are found unresponsive.

We face the driver of the truck from just outside the windshield as he drives down the street.

CHRISTOPHER: There's a lot of emotion on the scenes--a lot of noise from people and from the public, and we're shouting at each other a lot of the time.

The driver steps out of the truck backwards and closes the door.

CHRISTOPHER: Every facet of our job involves noise.

A close-up shows a red hydraulic column raising the fire truck from the ground.

An older man in a white uniform stands before a fire truck, talking.

JOHN: Just the idling of a diesel fire truck is noisy.

The driver from earlier, a young man, speaks from the driver's seat. He rests his arm along the rolled-down window.

ADAM: We run chainsaws; we operate Target saws.

Hands pull out a shelf from the fire truck. It contains a yellow and black piece of equipment, along with a red container with a tube attached.

CHRISTOPHER: Our biggest source is the noise every time we're backing up. We need to be at the back of the rig, so we have a loud back-up. Beep, beep.

Christopher walks along with the fire truck as it reverses. He holds a yellow cord attached to the truck.

CHRISTOPHER: You get used to the noise, and you're just doing your job, not thinking, oh, I wonder if this is having a long-term effect on my hearing.

The white fire truck now raises itself high above the truck from the roof. A gloved man begins to walk up it.

ADAM: It definitely takes its toll on you.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          John Fruetel

                                    Chief, Minneapolis Fire Department

JOHN: Being able to listen to the radio and hear transmissions, you know, communicate effectively.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          Adam Graves

                                    Fire Motor Operator, Minneapolis Fire Department

ADAM: If someone's yelling for help--if there's trapped people, trapped animals--we're definitely listening for those things.

JOHN: Hearing is a very vital part of our job.

The camera pans up and away from the top of the fire truck driver's cabin. White characters read "L10." A siren wails in the distance.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          Firefighters experience a

                                    higher rate of hearing loss

                                    than the average person.

JOHN: So I do suffer from tinnitus right now. And it's a condition--I started hearing ringing in my ears. They ring 24/7.

CHRISTOPHER: If there's a lot of background noise, I can't hear somebody talking. Early on, I rarely thought about how I need to protect my hearing.

Christopher places an orange earplug into his right ear.

CHRISTOPHER: As you start to lose it, you start to think about it.

Two plastic cases of ear plugs rest on the metal surface of a fire truck. Orange earplugs sit on one of the cases. The other is angled to show the top, which reads "UnitedHealthcare."

ON SCREEN TEXT:          UnitedHealthcare is helping protect

                                    the hearing health of firefighters

                                    and law enforcement personnel by

                                    donating 20,000 ear plugs to

                                    departments across the country.

JOHN: Well, for me personally, I would think I wish I would've had them 30 years ago.

The white ladder now lowers itself back onto the top of the fire truck. The side of the ladder reads "Minneapolis Fire Department."

ADAM: I think this donation from UnitedHealthcare increases the duration of people's hearing and reduces the amount of hearing loss that could happen over the course of someone's career.

Christopher walks along the length of the fire truck. He talks to someone off-screen. We can see he's wearing the orange earplugs. He laughs.

JOHN: I'm hoping that we could save their hearing so they can enjoy their retirement and still hear their grandkids scream a little bit.

From the driver's side, we see the fire truck driver pull out and the truck drive away. The emblem of the Minneapolis Fire Department painted on the door reads "Minneapolis, Fire, Rescue, EMT."

ON SCREEN TEXT:          UnitedHealthcare®