National News

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Poignant EMS Week Amid a Historic Pandemic

National EMS Week is an annual event throughout the United States which celebrates and recognizes the hard work that all EMS providers do on a daily basis – from emergency medical technicians (EMTs) up to paramedics. These EMS providers can be paid, volunteer or a both (but at different agencies). No matter what the level, just remember that this person made a conscious decision to help someone in need, even while putting themselves (and/or their loved ones) at increased risk. During this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the country, the acts of courage, dedication and compassion could not have been clearer. On the east coast, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut contributed a large percentage of the total cases and deaths in the United States. To look even deeper, New York City (at the epicenter of New York State and the United States) and its EMS system was deeply impacted.
Journal of Emergency Medical Services

Pennsylvania EMT dies after battle with COVID-19, weeks after virus takes brother

Jeremy Emerich, a critical care EMT on the ground for Lehigh Valley Health Network’s MedEvac, died Thursday following a battle with COVID-19, friends and coworkers said on social media. Emerich was also a U.S. Armed Forces veteran and an active firefighter in Fleetwood, the Berks County community where he lived with his companion, Shana Konek. He was 40. His death comes about six weeks after his brother, 30-year-old Reading resident Liborio Lara, died -- also from the coronavirus illness, The Reading Eagle reported. Emergency responders from across the region lined Route 222 on Thursday afternoon as Emerich’s remains were taken to Bean Funeral Home in Sinking Spring, Berks County, which handled arrangements for Lara, as well. A MedEvac helicopter joined the procession overhead.

Virus Crisis Exposes Cascading Weaknesses in US Disaster Response

For decades, the backbone of the nation’s disaster response system — and a hallmark of American generosity — has been its army of volunteers who race toward danger to help shelter, feed and counsel victims of hurricanes, wildfires and other calamities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a critical weakness in this system: Most volunteers are older people at higher risk from the virus, so this year they can’t participate in person. Typically more than 5 million volunteers work in disaster relief annually, said Greg Forrester, president of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, an association of nonprofit groups, but this year he expects the number to decline by 50 percent. Asked how disaster relief efforts can meet the usual demand with half as many people, Mr. Forrester said: “You won’t.”
The New York Times

Texas fire department to test for COVID-19, train other departments as part of state Strike Force reopening effort

The McKinney Fire Department will be at Belterra Health and Rehab on Friday morning, testing 200 residents and staff members for the novel coronavirus in an effort to curb its spread. This is the first testing related to Governor Greg Abbot’s Strike Force Plan to Open Texas, according to the department. As part of that plan, members of the fire department will also train firefighters from neighboring communities on how to conduct testing in the cities where they work. “The McKinney Fire Department is working hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially through nursing homes and similar facilities where people are most at risk,” McKinney Fire Department EMS Chief Charlie Skaggs said in a news release. “We hope our training will also help neighboring communities in their fight to protect residents.”
The Dallas Morning News

CDC estimates that 35% of coronavirus patients don’t have symptoms

In new guidance for mathematical modelers and public health officials, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is estimating that about a third of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic. The CDC also says its "best estimate" is that 0.4% of people who show symptoms and have COVID-19 will die, and the agency estimates that 40% of coronavirus transmission is occurring before people feel sick. The agency cautions that those numbers are subject to change as more is learned about COVID-19, and it warns that the information is intended for planning purposes. Still, the agency says its estimates are based on real data collected by the agency before April 29. The numbers are part of five planning scenarios that "are being used by mathematical modelers throughout the federal government," according to the CDC.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

California sheriff backs bill outlawing dead-body photos by first responders in wake of Kobe Bryant incident

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday, May 20, that he backs a bill moving its way through the Assembly that would make it a crime for first responders in California to take photos of dead bodies at emergency sites unless for an investigation. Assembly Bill 2655 would make it a misdemeanor for police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency personnel responding to disasters to take such photos. The bill comes on the heels of the January helicopter crash in Calabasas that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, and seven others. Officials later discovered that eight deputies were involved in the taking or sharing of the photos, the sheriff has said. He ordered the pictures destroyed and, he said, launched an internal investigation.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Six homes destroyed in Texas apartment fire

VIDEO: Six homes were destroyed early Thursday morning in a roaring apartment fire in Tomball. The fire started around 4 a.m. at the Cobble Creek Apartments on Lawrence Street near Medical Complex Drive. Tomball police officers helped neighbors evacuate the building as flames tore through the roof, firefighters said. Crews raised a ladder to fight the fire from above as firefighters went door-to-door trying to quell the flames. The fire made its way into a shared attic space, which had no way to stop the blaze from spreading to other apartments in the building. Authorities pulled a second-alarm, bringing more firefighters to the scene. The flames were under control a short time later. No injuries were reported. Arson investigators are working to determine what happened.
The Courier

Ohio firefighters set to volunteer for antibody testing to help in fight against COVID-19

The fear is still there, but some first responders have somewhat mastered coping with that fear of COVID-19. “You push it back so that you can maintain your mission,” Parma firefighter and department spokesperson T.J. Martin said. But the fear of unknowingly carrying the virus is hard to ignore. Martin says no one on his team has tested positive, but it would be comforting to know for sure. “I’m pretty confident that when we do get tested a lot of first responders throughout the country are going to come back as testing positive for COVID-19,” he said. “You don’t know if you’re carrying that virus to other members of your family or other members of your department family or possibly to the community at large.” With testing still limited across the state, Dr. Christine Schmotzer, University Hospitals’ Chief of the Division of Clinical Pathology, says antibody testing will help determine if someone was ever infected with COVID-19 and could help confirm if they were asymptomatic.
WEWS-TV ABC 5 Cleveland

Dozens of Ambulances Drive in Convoy to Fenway Park to Honor Massachusetts EMS Workers

VIDEO: The more than 20,000 paramedics, EMTs and 911 dispatchers in Massachusetts were honored Wednesday as part of National EMS Week as a large convoy of ambulances traveled from Worcester to Boston. The "Convoy of Champions" set off from UMass Memorial Medical Center about 1:15 p.m. and made the 40-mile drive in about an hour, with a state police escort and a UMass Medical Life Flight helicopter. Upon arrival, the drivers formed a heart in the Red Sox' outfield, around the word "EMS" mown into the grass. The ambulance crews were greeted with a flyover from both UMass and Boston MedFlight helicopters. Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and health care leaders were expected to provide video tributes to the EMS professionals, as well.
WBTS-TV NBC 10 Boston

Traumatic Stress from COVID-19 Raises Concerns for Front-Line Responders

As the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of focus has been on the health risks to healthcare workers due to the infectiousness of the virus and the insufficient amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) available. However, another health risk to these providers that is just starting to get attention are the physical and mental health effects from their constant exposure to the trauma of this disaster. Even without a pandemic, our healthcare workers are already at higher risk of psychiatric disorders including: burnout and suicide. However, the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic raises additional concerns about the mental health outcomes for our front-line responders. One of the things we see in disasters is that first responders and healthcare workers jump into action and will often work past their limits. Their training kicks in, and they enter what we often refer to as “operational mode.”
In Public Safety

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