News in Brief: April 2019

CHEMM offers nerve agent resources

First responders and health care workers can access resources that can help protect them from Novichoks or A-series fourth-generation nerve agents. These documents can be downloaded from the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) Web site ( They include the following: Safety Awareness for First On-Scene Responders Bulletin, which summarizes the symptoms of exposure, protective actions, and decontamination procedures; a Reference Guide with detailed information for hazmat response teams; and Medical Management Guidelines, which contains information that prepares fire, emergency medical services (EMS), and hospital staff for these incidents and for the medical management of patients.

A federal interagency working group of experts in medicine, science, public health, law enforcement, fire, EMS, hazmat, and occupational safety and health from the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Department of Transportation (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of EMS), Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency developed these resources in response to incidents in the United Kingdom in 2018 that involved a fourth-generation agent. The resources will be updated as new information becomes available.


EMS Agenda 2050 released

The Office of EMS (emergency medical services) at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and its federal partners recently released EMS Agenda 2050: A People-Centered Vision for the Future of Emergency Medical Services. (, which proposes a vision that integrates evidence-based, data-driven EMS with the overall nation’s health care system.

The guiding principles for the future EMS system are the following: It should be inherently safe and effective, integrated and seamless, socially equitable, reliable and prepared, sustainable and efficient, and adaptable and innovative.

“Our first responders, paramedics and other EMS clinicians are key to the nation’s health and safety, whether responding to everyday medical problems, vehicle crashes, or major incidents and natural disasters,” says NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “As a former EMT and 911 telecommunicator, I look forward to seeing the EMS community work together to achieve the bold and visionary agenda it identified for the future.”


Sen. Tom Carper chair, Rep. Mike Bost co-chair of CFSC

Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, has announced that Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware will serve as the chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus for the 116th Congress and Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois will be the co-chair.

Carper was elected to the Senate in 2001; he previously served five terms in the House of Representatives and two terms as governor. Carper has been a tireless advocate for the nation’s fire and emergency services, notes Webb.

Bost, serving his third term in the House of Representatives, was a firefighter for the Murphysboro (IL) Fire Department. He graduated from the University of Illinois’ Certified Firefighter II Academy in 1993 and served there during his six terms as state representative. Bost was a member of the United States Marine Corps from 1979 to 1982.

The other members of the Caucus are Congressmen Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Peter King (NY-3), and Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ-9) and Senators Susan Collins (ME), Jon Tester (MT), and Lisa Murkowski (AK). A list of current members of the Caucus is at


House law focuses on fuel container safety

On January 28, Congressmen Mike Thompson (CA-5) and David Joyce (OH-14) introduced H.R. 806, the Portable Fuel Container Safety Act (, which directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt a standard that requires flame-mitigation devices be added to consumer-grade portable fuel containers, according to a release from the Congressional Fire Services Institute. The legislation was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.


Cardiac arrest survival, AEDs, advocacy

In the February 13, 2019, edition of the Occupational Health & Safety e-news, Richard A. Lazar noted that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the third leading cause of death in the United States and that fewer than six percent of SCA victims survive even though 30 years of effort have been expended to combat this fact. Even though it is widely known that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) soon after SCA occurs are the keys to saving more lives, “only one in four people who experience SCA get bystander CPR, and fewer than four in 100 benefit from bystander use of an AED,” Lazar writes.

He attributes this lack of progress to the “scarcity of these life-saving devices (AEDs) in public places throughout the country.” He explains: “Because of an AED shortage in the United States, most SCA victims experience their life-or-death emergency where no AED can be found.”

The solution, he says, is to “have a clearer understanding of the magnitude of the problem and then concerted public policy action by policymakers, thought leaders, national advocacy organizations, SCA survivors, victims’ families, and others who care to effect positive change.”

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January 6. Firefighter Steven H. Pollard, 30, Fire Department of New York: fall while working at an extrication scene.

February 18. District Chief Jason Byrd, 42, Fayette County Fire Department, Somerville, TN: heart attack.

February 23. Firefighter Brenden A. Pierce, 21, Palmerdale Fire District, Pinson, AL: cerebrovascular event suffered on February 20.

February 27. Firefighter Thomas Nye, 72, Marion (MA) Fire Department: heart attack suffered on February 26.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

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PumpStart program teaches hands-only CPR to students

The PumpStart initiative, developed by students at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), trains high school students in administering hands-only cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Students in the metro-Boston area who participated in the program “reported significant improvements in CPR technique and confidence in acquired skills” after completing the program, according to the BUSM.

The students viewed a 60-minute training session on hands-only CPR and received hands-on, small group practice time. They completed surveys before and after the training.

“Getting the general public to feel comfortable performing bystander CPR is vital to overall improved survival from cardiac arrest events,” explains Anita Knopov, a fourth-year BUSM medical student, the study’s co-author. She believes that “PumpStart can serve as a model for other organizations and can have a long-term public health impact as bystander CPR continues to be a predominant predictor in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival.”

Reference: Nikita S. Kalluri, Anita Knopov, Ricky Kue. “A Service-Learning Initiative to Teach Hands-Only CPR to High School Students: PumpStart.” Journal of Education, 2018; 002205741881881 DOI: 10.1177/0022057418818817.

College degree for paramedics: groups voice concern

Major national fire service organizations have issued a statement expressing concern over proposed legislative and regulatory efforts to make a college degree a prerequisite for entry-level paramedics, advises the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). The joint statement, issued December 30, 2018, states in part: “Requiring a college degree for entry-level paramedics would create hardships for fire departments and make EMS systems financially unsustainable in many states. There are no identifiable data or other evidence suggesting that requiring paramedics to obtain a college degree would result in better patient outcomes, enhanced professionalism for EMS providers, better performance, or higher pay.” The full statement is at Other participants in the statement are the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the National Fire Protection Association.

“The NVFC recognizes the value of and supports individuals pursuing higher education opportunities in accredited paramedic programs that offer degrees,” says NVFC EMS/Rescue Section Chair Juan Bonilla. “However, we see no need to transition paramedic training to a college setting exclusively. There are many quality paramedic training programs that do not offer a college degree. Additionally, the NVFC is concerned about the potential impact that a college degree requirement would have on rural EMS agencies that already face significant challenges related to recruitment and retention of personnel and access to training and certification services.”

Meth, similar drug overdoses growing rapidly

Meth and other psychostimulant-related overdose deaths grew by more than 5,000 percent over eight years in Ohio, according to data collected by the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health. The Alliance, a collaboration established by Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions, the University of Toledo’s College of Health and Human Services, and Ohio’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, recently completed a review of unintentional overdose fatalities in Ohio from 2010 to 2017 with a focus on the presence of cocaine and psychostimulant drugs such as methamphetamines and amphetamines.

“This research is invaluable because it gives us deeper understanding, and an early warning indicator, in the ongoing drug crisis,” said Rick Hodges, director of the Alliance and executive-in-residence in Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions.

Orman Hall, author of the analysis and another executive-in-residence at Ohio University, noted, “Cocaine (including crack) and psychostimulants have similar effects. Users experience increased alertness as well as intense feelings of exhilaration and euphoria.” While addiction to stimulants is common, “The recent surge of stimulant-related fatalities in Ohio is concerning,” notes Hall. “Psychostimulants were found in nine unintentional overdose deaths in 2010. That number rose to 509 in 2017, a staggering increase of 5,556 percent.”

Among other findings in the analysis are the following:

  • 71 percent of overdose deaths in 2017 involving psychostimulants occurred with fentanyl and 79 percent occurred with some form of opioid. The 2017 data also showed that 12 percent of all unintentional overdose deaths included the use of a psychostimulant.
  • Overdose deaths that included cocaine rose 617 percent from 212 in 2010 to 1,520 in 2017. Seventy percent of the overdose deaths involving cocaine in 2017 occurred with fentanyl and 81 percent occurred with some form of opioid. Thirty-two percent of all unintentional overdose deaths included cocaine in 2017.
  • Dennis Lowe, commander of the Major Crimes Unit that serves Athens, Hocking, and Fairfield counties, explains that drug cartels are using fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as cutting agents with cocaine and methamphetamine; people are purchasing what they think is straight cocaine or straight methamphetamine when it contains “something that very likely will kill them.”
  • Locally and across Ohio, opiate use “has kind of gone underground and methamphetamine and cocaine are charging to the front,” according to Lowe. The Ohio Department of Health says that opioid and heroin overdose deaths are at a four-year low.

Source: Ohio University. “Meth, similar drug overdoses growing rapidly: Meth and other psychostimulant-related overdose deaths grow by over 5,000 percent in Ohio.” ScienceDaily, 6 November 2018. <>.

IAFC: “New NMAS takes mutual aid to the next level”

The new National Mutual Aid System (NMAS) recently launched by the partnership of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Juvare, and Esri, will enable U.S. state and local governments to access cutting-edge technology to request, geospatially locate, and strategically deploy response resources, according to the IAFC.

“The existing Mutual Aid Net has been used throughout the United States to identify, request, and deploy resources for mutual aid support,” explains the IAFC; the new NMAS will use the latest technology to accomplish these tasks faster, easier, and more accurately.

“The new NMAS takes mutual aid to the next level, creating a system where all users can access cutting-edge technology to request, geospatially locate, and strategically deploy response resources,” says Chief Dan Eggleston, IAFC president and chairman of the board. NMAS is served through WebEOC and the ArcGIS Extension for WebEOC, which provides access to and integration with Esri’s powerful online tools and dashboards.


December 23. Chief Robert “Bobby” Lee Dunaway, 72, Howell Volunteer Fire Department, Lucedale, MS: heart attack.

December 25. Firefighter Natalie Dempsey, 21, Mizpah (NJ) Volunteer Fire Company: accident in personally owned vehicle.

December 31. Captain Christopher P. Truman, 46, Lake Mills (WI) Fire Department: struck by vehicle while helping a motorist.


January 5. Lieutenant Eric M. Hosette, 33, Clinton (IA) Fire Department: injuries sustained in an explosion at a silo fire.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database


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