American Heart Association revises CPR/ECC guidelines

For the first time in more than 40 years, the American Heart Association (AHA) is recommending that individuals administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency cardiovascular care (ECC) begin with chest compressions before clearing the victim’s airway and breathing into a victim’s mouth. The A-B-Cs (Airway-Breathing-Compressions) of CPR have been changed to C-A-Bs (Compressions-Airway-Breathing).

The AHA and the American Red Cross also revised guidelines for administering first aid, including updated recommendations for treating snake bites, anaphylaxis (shock), jellyfish stings, and severe bleeding. The new guidelines were published in the November 2 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and have been posted on the AHA Web site (

NASEMSO adopts EMS education standards

The National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) adopted a series of resolutions that support implementing the EMS Education Agenda for the Future: A Systems Approach.The Agenda has five primary components:

1 The National EMS Core Content: A list of skills and knowledge needed for out-of-hospital emergency care.

2 The National EMS Scope of Practice Model: The national EMS core content is divided into levels of practice, defining minimum knowledge and skills for each level.

3 The National EMS Education Standards: They replace the current National Standard Curricula and specify minimum terminal learning objectives for each level of practice.

4 National EMS Education Program Accreditation: It would be applied to all nationally recognized provider levels and would be universal.

5 National EMS Certification: It would be available to all nationally recognized provider levels and would be universal.

A task force of individuals representing a variety of professions involved in EMS education developed the Education Agenda, including the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). Although the Agenda is a national document and various federal agencies—including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—participated in its development, the federal government does not mandate its implementation. The states will decide whether to implement it. Consequently, NASEMSO’s vote to adopt the Agenda is significant.

Ken Knipper, the NVFC’s EMS/Rescue Section chairman, notes that the volunteer EMS community needs to recognize not only that the Education Agenda is going to be implemented but also how that implementation will take place. “Each state is going to have to decide how to apply the various components of the Agenda, and volunteers need to make sure that their voice is heard as that process moves forward,” he explains.

Among the resolutions adopted are those covering EMS testing and certification and national EMS certification and program accreditation.

• Resolution 2010-03 supports a proposed calendar for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) to use to sunset existing exams and implement examinations based on the National EMS Education Standards. NREMT can provide access to the EMT Intermediate-99 exam to states using the exam for state licensure after the national certification exam is retired in 2013. If NREMT adopts the standards, the Emergency Medical Responder and Emergency Medical Technician exams could be available January 1, 2013. Advanced EMT exams would begin June 1, 2011, and revised paramedic exams would become available on January 1, 2013.

• Resolution 2010-04 recognizes the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs’ Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions for assisting paramedic education programs to achieve accreditation and supports January 1, 2013, as the beginning date for the NREMT to require graduation from a nationally accredited paramedic education program to obtain national EMS certification.

These actions, says NASEMSO President Randy Kuykendall, will “not only strengthen EMS as a profession but [will also] improve emergency care across the nation.” 

Line-of-Duty Deaths 

October 26. Lieutenant Bruce Bachinsky, 47, Waterbury (CT) Fire Department: apparent heart attack.

October 30. Lieutenant Kevin Quinn, 52, Dayton (OH) Fire Department: cause still to be determined.

October 31. Firefighter Gary L. Cummins, 62, Brocton (IL) Fire Protection District: apparent heart attack.

November 1. Lieutenant Rick Drake, 39, German Township Fire Department, Taylorsville, IN: massive heart attack.

November 5. Captain Leonard Arthur Murray, 53, Jackson Township Fire Department, Nashville, IN: killed while working at the fire station; the incident is under investigation.

November 10. Firefighter James Gumbert, 63, North Irwin (PA) Volunteer Fire Department: apparent heart attack.

November 13. Firefighter Chance Zobel, 23, Columbia (SC) Fire Department: struck by a motor vehicle while working a median fire on an interstate.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database 

NIST drafts improvements based on Charleston fire 

“If today’s model codes had been in place and rigorously followed in Charleston (South Carolina) in 2007, the conditions that led to the rapid fire spread in the Sofa Super Store probably would have been prevented,” noted the draft of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) technical study team’s report on the fire that trapped and killed nine firefighters. NIST urged states and localities “to adopt and strictly adhere to current national model building and fire safety codes.”

The draft report listed among the contributing factors to the rapid spread of fire at the Sofa Super Store the following: large open spaces with furniture providing high fuel loads, the inward rush of air following the breaking of windows, and the absence of sprinklers.

The study team made 10 recommendations for safeguarding building, occupant, and firefighter safety nationwide. Among them are the following:

• New and existing furniture stores should have automatic sprinklers, especially if the stores include large, open display areas. Sprinklers should be required by code for all new commercial retail furniture stores regardless of size and for existing retail furniture stores with any single display area of greater than 190 square meters (2,000 square feet).

• Model codes that cover high-fuel-load situations (such as a furniture store) should be adopted. They should ensure proper fire inspections and building plan examinations and encourage research that will enhance the understanding of fire situations such as venting smoke from burning buildings and the spread of fire on furniture.

• Install automatic sprinklers inside the loading dock. In this case, they could have significantly slowed the fire, which began just outside the dock area. NIST said the model showed that sprinklers on the loading dock likely would have maintained tenability conditions so that firefighters could have escaped unassisted.

The complete draft report is at NIST, at press time, was soliciting comments on the draft report and its recommendations until December 2, 2010. After publication of the final report, NIST will work with the appropriate committees of the International Code Council to incorporate the recommendations to improve provisions in model building and fire codes. NIST will also work with the major organizations representing state and local governments—including building and fire officials—and firefighters to encourage them to seriously consider its recommendations. 

Study evaluates impact of home fire sprinkler incentives 

“Incentives for sprinkler installations in new U.S. homes are becoming increasingly common due to building codes and ordinances, and in recognition of the life safety benefits these systems provide,” according to Incentives for the Use of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems in the U.S., a study released in October by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The study, conducted for the Foundation by Newport Partners, LLC, with an advisory panel, identified and estimated the approximate value of sprinkler system incentives used in U.S. communities for including sprinklers in new one-family homes. Incentives included financial trade-offs and on-site and off-site design flexibility. The homeowner, builder, or developer benefitted from the incentives.

Among the report’s findings were the following:

• Builder-oriented incentives could offset approximately one-third of the cost of a sprinkler system for a new home. Examples of these incentives include reduced or waived fees and reduced fire ratings for building assemblies.

• Incentives expected to accrue to builders had the largest estimated value, $1,949 per building lot. Developer-oriented incentives were estimated to offer a value of $1,271/lot. Incentives for homeowners have a first-year total value of $145/lot.

• Each of the homeowner-oriented incentives (e.g., reduced property taxes) had recurring benefits. When valuing these incentives over the long term, they compare more favorably to the values for builders and developers.

The 16 communities interviewed for the study were Gorham, Maine; Baltimore County, Maryland; Fairfax County and Chesterfield County, Virginia; Altamonte Springs, Orange County, Elk Grove, and Moraga-Orinda Fire District, California; Scottsdale and Goodyear, Arizona; Wilsonville, Oregon; Spring Lake Park, Minnesota; the State of Illinois and Lake Forest, Illinois; and Montpelier and Hartford, Vermont.

A study Newport Partners conducted in 2008 found that the cost of installing sprinkler systems to the home builder averaged $1.61 per sprinklered square foot. Installation costs and insurance premium discounts associated with the installation of home fire sprinkler systems were studied in 10 communities. Additional information about these studies is available at

USFA-IAFF releases study on respiratory diseases 

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) have partnered to produce “Respiratory Diseases and the Fire Service,” a report of the findings of a long-term study that examines the occupational health of firefighters. “The purpose of this initiative is to provide information to the fire service on the mitigation of the long-term effects of occupational respiratory exposure,” explains U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines.

IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger notes: “Respiratory diseases remain a significant health issue for firefighters and other emergency responders.” The study, which involved renowned experts in the field of pulmonary medicine, will assist in recognizing and quantifying the impact of respiratory exposure and in the development of mitigation strategies and programs for firefighters, their families, and fire departments, according to the USFA.

The report is available at the IAFF Web site ( in PDF format.

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