American Lung Association honors Wisconsin residents with national awards
(May 22, 2017) -
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Brookfield, WI – Two Wisconsin residents have been selected to receive prestigious national awards from the American Lung Association. Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski will receive the Volunteer Excellence Award and Bruce Christiansen, PhD of Madison will receive the C. Everett Koop Unsung Hero Award at a ceremony to be held at the Lung Association’s annual awards banquet on June 23 at the O’Hare Hilton in Chicago.
Lipski’s involvement with the Lung Association goes back to 2009, when he was one of the first firefighters to participate in what is now the largest and most successful Fight for Air Climb in the nation. Since then, he has served on the Climb committee and recruited other fire departments to the event, helping quadruple the number of firefighters who participate. Over the years his engagement has increased his involvement, next becoming active in the Clear Gains program, Wisconsin’s effort to bring smoke free multi-unit housing to all Wisconsin residents.
“Smoking and smoking-related materials are a major cause of residential fires, including those that occur in multi-unit dwellings,” Lipski explains. “For example, in recent years, United States fire departments responded to about 90,000 smoking-related fires which caused 540 civilian deaths, 1,640 civilian injuries and $621 million in direct property damage.” Through his efforts, the Clear Gains network has expanded to include numerous other Wisconsin fire departments, including Green Bay, Racine and Madison.
In 2015, Lipski helped launch the “Partners for Asthma Action” initiative in Milwaukee, playing a key role in establishing the MFD as a program delivery partner. By engaging first responders, the Lung Association is better equipped to reach and impact children and families with asthma.
Lipski is also a member of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin Local Leadership Board.
Dr. Christiansen, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research Initiative (UW-[CTRI) has worked tirelessly to serve the most vulnerable of smokers, including those who are homeless, struggle with addiction or mental health issues, live in an inner-city environment, or are prisoners waiting to be released. Studies show these disparity groups smoke
at much higher rates than the overall population. Part of that innovation has been to move beyond just healthcare, including outreach efforts directly to smokers and to the community workers and corrections professional who often serve them. Dr. Christiansen combines his research, outreach and psychiatric expertise with a passion to serve the most underserved.
Christiansen also has managed the Wisconsin Nicotine Treatment Integration Project (WinTiP), which works to help behavioral health patients in Wisconsin to quit smoking and has served as a national model. Because of Wisconsin’s smoke free air law, inmates at Wisconsin’s prisons must quit smoking. By working with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Dr. Christiansen has helped ensure that inmates stay smoke-free following their release from prison. As Ronnie, a patient assisted by WiNTiP said, “It feels great to be tobacco free…I’m not a prisoner anymore.”