Cameron Nicholas is a firefighter with the Prichard, Ala., Fire Department. But having type 1 diabetes almost prevented that from happening.
Cameron had always dreamed of becoming a firefighter. He had never let diabetes stop him from staying fit, playing sports in school and living life—so it had never occurred to him that he couldn’t achieve this dream. And his mother, Veronica, had always told him that he “could do anything he wanted.”
Lack of Understanding
Becoming a firefighter required passing a physical exam—and Cameron had passed a number of physicals and endurance tests in the past. But when he took the required physical for firefighting in 2013, he didn’t pass.
One issue was that the doctor did not understand the laws that protect people who have diabetes, as well as the appropriate medical standards necessary to judge Cameron’s readiness for firefighting duties. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with diabetes. Medical reviews for firefighters have to be based on their ability to do their job, not just how they are taking care of their diabetes.
A Dream Achieved
Cameron was angry and extremely disappointed. So Veronica contacted the American Diabetes Association. A member of the Association’s Legal Advocacy staff helped Veronica understand the situation, and then she educated the doctor.
As a result, Cameron was able to pass another physical. He became a firefighter and he loves his job! As of February 2015, he has been a firefighter for over a year. And in 2014, Cameron passed the test to become a Certified EMT (Emergency Management Technician), finishing second in his class!
Cameron says, “Never let diabetes stop you from achieving your goals and dreams.”
The American Diabetes Association leads the effort to prevent and eliminate discrimination against people with diabetes at school, at work and in other parts of daily life. If you need help, call 1-800-DIABETES or visit http://diabetes.org/gethelp.
To learn more, sign up to receive Diabetes Docket, our e-newsletter on the rights of people with diabetes: http://diabetes.org/diabetesdocket.