New South Wales #NSW | Busy night for Fire & Rescue NSW firefighters – #SevereWeather

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) crews across Sydney and the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Newcastle areas have responded to nearly 1000 storm-related jobs since late yesterday afternoon in one of the busiest nights in the organisation’s history.

Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said FRNSW had taken more than 3000 Triple Zero (000) calls since 6pm yesterday.

“We have had about 800 firefighters and 200 fire trucks responding to ongoing emergencies including flood rescues, house fires, serious road accidents with people trapped, trees down and building collapses,” Commissioner Mullins said.

This morning Commissioner Mullins ordered the mobilisation of 24 reserve fire trucks and the recall of off-duty firefighters. These crews, together with a contingent of fire trucks and crews from Sydney, will be used to assist Central Coast and Newcastle fire crews.

During last night’s emergency response, a Raymond Terrace firefighter was injured when a large tree fell on a fire truck cabin at Heatherbrae, Port Stephens. The firefighter was transported to hospital with minor injuries and is in a stable condition. At Morriset a tree has brought down powerlines on top of a fire truck, trapping firefighters inside.

Incidents firefighters have responded to since 4pm yesterday until 8am today include:

  • Dungog firefighters rescuing numerous residents trapped by floodwaters in Stroud, near Newcastle
  • More than 990 storm-related emergencies, including powerlines down and arcing, trees down and assisting members of the public
  • More than 30 rescues, including two people in Rankin Park, Lake Macquarie, after a large tree fell on their house, restricting access.
  • About 75 fires, including a two-storey house in Carlton destroyed by fire, and a school fire at Holsworthy
  • 16 electrical fires and five gas leaks
  • More than 180 other callouts such as automatic fire alarms being set off by wind, power outages and heavy rain.
  • Commissioner Mullins said FRNSW would continue to provide support to the NSW SES throughout today as extreme weather conditions continue.

“I can only praise firefighters and our other emergency service colleagues for their mighty effort,” he said. “We’re also appealing to the public to only call Triple Zero (000) if it is a genuine emergency and do not drive through floodwaters. For flood and storm assistance, call the NSW SES on 132 500,” he said.

New South Wales #NSW | #SevereWeather morning update

An intense low pressure system has brought significant wind and rainfall to the New South Wales coast overnight.  This wild weather currently sits near the boundary of the Hunter and Mid North Coast locations and is expected to move gradually south throughout the day.

NSW SES have undertaken 3136 jobs and 19 flood rescues since 10am Monday.

Hunter Region job totals = 956

Illawarra South Coast  job totals  = 169

Sydney Metro  job totals  = 1944

The following priority flood/storm jobs have been attended by NSW SES:

  • Half of roof blown off – Cessnock City Unit
  • Roof blown off – Lake Macquarie Unit
  • Roofing coming away at Hawkes Nest Caravan Park – Karuah Valley Unit
  • Roof off – Karuah Valley Unit
  • Roof blown off block of units (14 people seeking accommodation) – City of Newcastle Unit
  • Occupants trapped in house due to tree through roof – Lake Macquarie Unit
  • Double storey window weighing 1/2 tonne loose – City of Newcastle
  • Tree through roof of aged care facility – Wyong Unit
  • Large shed uprooted – Wyong Unit
  • Tree down blocking access to Ambulance Control Centre – Lake Macquarie City
  • Carport roof blown away – City of Newcastle Unit

Another reminder we are experiencing a backlog of calls as we currently receiving more jobs than we have phone lines. Please be patient, jobs that are life critical are taking priority before storm damage jobs. We understand that you wish to get through but the only way to register your job correctly is though the 132 500 number.

For tips on what your family can do to prepare for storms, visit

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Wisconsin #WI | Governor authorizes #NationalGuard to assist in response to #HPAI avian flu #outbreak

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today signed Executive Order #156, authorizing the Wisconsin National Guard to assist authorities in the response to the avian influenza virus affecting Jefferson, Juneau, and Barron Counties.

“We must act quickly and efficiently to contain the outbreak and protect domestic poultry,” Governor Walker said.  “It is important to note, however, there is no threat to humans with the avian flu outbreak.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), avian influenza virus has been detected in three Wisconsin poultry flocks, affecting tens of thousands of chickens and turkeys.

Governor Walker’s Executive Order allows the Wisconsin National Guard to assist in the response and help contain the outbreak, as well as offer assistance in site clean-up.  The state veterinarian, through DATCP, requested up to 14 Guard personnel be made available, on a rotating schedule, for immediate assistance.  This assistance from the Wisconsin National Guard is necessary because federal resources are thin, due to avian influenza virus outbreaks in other states, particularly in the Midwest.

If you find a sick or dead bird, do not touch it.  For domestic birds, call DATCP’s Division of Animal Health at 1-800-572-8981, and for wild birds, call the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-433-1810

A copy of Executive Order #156 is attached.

Iowa #IA | USDA confirms presence of #HPAI #H5N2 in #Osceola County – 5.3 million hens affected

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) at a commercial laying facility in Osceola County, Iowa.  The facility has 5.3 million hens and is the second confirmed case in the state.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.

The flock experienced increased mortality and as a result samples were sent to the South Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for preliminary testing.  The APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa confirmed the findings. NVSL is the only internationally recognized Avian Influenza reference laboratory in the United States.

USDA APHIS is working closely with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the premise and birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

The United States has the strongest Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world.  As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4)  Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken.

These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.  Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at

For more information about the ongoing avian influenza disease incidents visit the APHIS website. More information about avian influenza can be found on the USDA avian influenza page. More information about avian influenza and public health is available on the CDC website.  Information will also be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at

Ontario #ON | Avian influenza #H5 confirmed on second poultry farm in #Oxford County

Preliminary testing by the Province of Ontario has confirmed the presence of H5 avian influenza on a second farm in Oxford County, Ontario. The farm is a broiler breeder chicken farm.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has placed the farm under quarantine to control disease spread and the poultry industry has been notified to adopt enhanced biosecurity practices. Further testing by the CFIA is underway to confirm pathogenicity and to determine the precise subtype and strain of the virus. Pathogenicity refers to the severity of the illness caused in birds.

Avian influenza does not pose a risk to food safety when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked. Avian influenza rarely affects humans that do not have consistent contact with infected birds. Public health authorities stand ready to take precautionary measures as warranted.

Initial tests for the disease were conducted on April 17, 2015 at the Animal Health Laboratory at the University of Guelph, after the chicken farm experienced sudden deaths of birds over several days.

All birds on the infected premises will be humanely destroyed and disposed of, in accordance with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease control guidelines. As lead response agency the CFIA will ensure the quarantine of the infected farm, and determine a surrounding surveillance zone for further testing and movement control measures. The CFIA will also lead on required depopulation of birds, while the Province will provide technical support on required carcass disposal. Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain.

The Province of Ontario, the CFIA, the owner of the infected birds, and the poultry industry are working closely together to manage the situation. Both levels of government will work with the poultry industry to address issues as they emerge. The Canadian poultry sector currently practices a high level of biosecurity that reduces the risk of disease spread.

Massachusetts #MA | Public safety plans outlined for #Boston #Marathon

As the City of Boston prepares for millions of visitors for the 119th Boston Marathon, Mayor Martin J. Walsh released public safety plans to ensure a successful series of events.

“The Marathon is a major international athletic contest, and a celebration of all that we love about Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “We have worked together collaboratively, with the Boston Police Department, and all of our partners, to keep everyone safe. We also ask the public for vigilance, and are encouraging everyone, if you see something, say something.”

Public Safety

  • Boston Police Department (BPD) will have uniformed and undercover officers along the marathon route.

  • Over 100 cameras will be active along the Boston portion of the Marathon route, and upwards of 50 observation points will be set up around the finish line area in the Back Bay to monitor the crowd.

  • Spectators are encouraged to leave large items such as backpacks and strollers at home. These items are not banned; however, individuals may be subject to search.

  • Call 9-1-1 in an emergency situation and follow @bostonpolice for race safety updates.

  • Boston Fire will have walking patrols along the course to respond to incidents. Patrols can call-in additional assets, utilizing the alleys and adjacent roadways to the course. Air quality monitoring will also be carried-out along the route.

  • Boston Fire will stage its specialized units for Tech Rescue, Haz Mat, Decon, and additional apparatus at strategic locations on both sides of the course.

Emergency Medical Services

  • 14 ambulances will be located along the Boston portion of the race route to support the 24 ambulances providing service coverage throughout Boston.

  • 140 Boston EMS personnel will be located along the Boston portion of the race route on bicycles, utility vehicles, foot patrol, and in medical tents, in addition to the crews covering the rest of the City.

  • In addition to the two large medical tents in the finish line area, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will have a small medical station on the Boston Common with a 30-bed ambulance bus ready to deploy.

Street Closures & Traffic Advisories

Please see attached traffic advisory from the Boston Transportation Department for full traffic and road closure information.

  • Vehicle traffic will be prohibited and parking will be restricted on many streets in Boston in the days leading up to the Boston Marathon and on Monday, April 20, 2015.

  • Using the MBTA to travel to and from Boston on Marathon Monday is strongly recommended.  Detailed information on MBTA service can be found at  For a faster return trip, the MBTA advises riders to purchase a round-trip rather than a one-way ticket.

  • On Marathon Monday, Newbury Street and Huntington Avenue outbound will be closed to vehicle traffic to allow easier spectator movement in the area.

Emergency Communications

  • The City’s Emergency Operations Center will be open on Saturday and Monday to monitor the races. The EOC will be staffed by our city departments, state agencies and our non-profit partners to coordinate the City’s Operational plan.  Additionally, the EOC will monitor the weather, maintain situational awareness regarding the various Marathon events, ?respond to any resource requests from public safety ?and manage family reunification if needed.

  • Boston EMS, Police, Fire, and the Office of Emergency Management ?will have personnel assigned to the multi agency coordination center at the Massachusetts Emergency Operation Center in Framingham.

  • BPHC will have staffing at the Dispatch Operations Center and Central Medical Emergency Dispatch (CMED) Center where ambulance to hospital communication throughout metropolitan Boston is coordinated.

Vermont #VT | Call for public health #volunteers

oncall_logo_200Debbie Boyce is a passionate community volunteer, whether she is supporting a local vaccine clinic or through her service as an Emergency Medical Technician.

“She is a phenomenal volunteer – very dedicated and works really hard,” said Sue Hommel, a public health specialist for the Vermont Department of Health. Hommel recruited Boyce to serve as the Rutland County Medical Reserve Corps unit coordinator two years ago.

Boyce is featured in On Call for Vermont television and web videos launched today to recruit volunteers to serve as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers. An EMS recruitment and retention survey conducted by the Health Department in January 2014 showed that two-thirds of EMS agencies statewide felt understaffed.

The Health Department hopes On Call for Vermont will recruit hundreds of volunteers who are willing to put their skills to use to help others.

Boyce said she felt obligated as a retired educator to give back to her community. Less than two months after joining the team, Boyce traveled to Washington DC to receive specialized Medical Reserve Corps training.

“One thing we were taught is the importance of communicating because people faced with a public health concern get very worried,” Boyce said. “It’s important to listen closely and with compassion to people before you tell them the actions they need to take to protect themselves and others.”

Boyce has helped recruit more than 30 volunteers in her area, including several retired nurses, to serve Rutland and Addison counties. They are trained to respond quickly in the event they are activated by a community need or a larger Health Department activation.

Volunteers join On Call for Vermont to prepare and respond to community health threats, to gain clinical experience, and for professional development. Boyce is constantly recruiting new members. She also writes a column in the local paper, and holds monthly meetings to keep her community strong, safe and healthy.

Boyce feels a camaraderie with the other volunteers, and is proud of the work done by other units across Vermont, such as the Chittenden County MRC that recently supported the tuberculosis testing clinics for students at Charlotte Central School.

“What really draws me to Vermont is the giving of people,” Boyce added. “Often they don’t even really need to be asked. They are there to give.”

For more information on how to join On Call for Vermont visit:

Maine #ME | #Flood potential remains above normal – More rain on the way

The Maine River Flow Advisory Commission hosted a conference call on Thursday to review current hydrologic conditions. This was a follow-up to last week’s conference call.

Some ice jamming is occurring on the St. John and Aroostook Rivers at the present time and is being closely monitored.

We’re monitoring flood potential very closely as the spring progresses,” the Governor Paul R. LePage said. “We’re encouraged that conditions look stable in the short term, but concerned especially about the potential for ice jam flooding, which can be extremely destructive. I encourage all Mainers, especially those who live and have businesses in flood-prone areas, to stay informed on the potential for flooding.”

Snow Survey

Snow is gone in southern Maine but continues to hold on in Washington and Hancock Counties, inland from the coast and in northern Maine. Densities are rising state-wide with the spring-like temperatures. Deepest snowpack with the highest water content values are found in the upper Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot River drainage basins.

Snow surveys will be conducted weekly until all the snow is gone.

Maine Cooperative Snow Survey maps and data:

Stream Flow and Ice Conditions

Stream flows are above normal for this time of year. Rivers and streams continue to increase as the snow melts.

Ice jamming is a concern in the St. John and Aroostook Rivers. There is little to no potential of ice jams in other areas.

Weather Outlook

According to the National Weather Service forecast offices in Gray and Caribou, temperatures are expected in the normal to slightly below normal range next week. Some showers are expected this evening and tomorrow and then later in the weekend. A more significant storm is predicted early next week which could increase the chances of river flooding.

Flood Potential

Flood potential is above normal for the State for the next two weeks. Rain combined with spring like temperatures predicted for early next week will be monitored closely.

The River Flow Advisory Commission will convene again next week to assess conditions across the State. The National Weather Service Forecast offices in Gray and Caribou issue Flood Potential Statements every two weeks during the spring.

For more information:

National Weather Service flood-related statements: All forecasts from NWS Gray All forecasts from NWS Caribou:

– See more at:

Alabama #AL | Almost 100 people seen in ERs in last four weeks with ODs caused by synthetic cannabinoids #Spice

The Alabama Department of Public Health is aware of at least 98 people that have presented at hospitals in Alabama within the past month with drug overdoses suspicious of being caused by synthetic cannabinoids that are identified with the street name of spice.

Synthetic drugs are toxic to users and pose risks to the public. Furthermore, the long-term health effects are unknown since the substances are not in mainstream medicine.

In the first months of 2015, Mobile County reported 7 exposures to synthetic cannabinoids, an increase from the 6 exposures in the entire year of 2014. The Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama has received 213 calls about synthetic cannabinoids since 2010. After a peak number of cases in 2011, the numbers declined in 2012 and 2013, but are on the rise again.

Users of the synthetic mixtures typically experience symptoms that include rapid heart rate, nausea and vomiting, agitation, confusion, lethargy, hallucinations, kidney and respiratory problems. Deaths have also occurred after people have ingested or smoked these substances.

Dr. Donald Williamson, State Health Officer, said. “We want the public to be aware of the toxic effects and other dangers associated with synthetic marijuana use.”

The designer drug substances consist of dried plant material sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. The chemical compounds reportedly stimulate the same brain areas affected by marijuana, and they have a high potential for abuse. Users may opt for these marijuana alternatives because they believe they cannot be detected by a standard drug screen.

Hundreds of different variants are commonly marketed under names such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Spice Gold,” “Sence,” “Genie,” “Zohai,” “Yucatan Fire,” “Smoke,” “Sexy Monkey,” “Black Mamba” and “Skunk.”

“Although the medical side effects are not fully known, they could include anxiety attacks, seizures, hallucinations, nausea, increased heart rate, paranoia and suicidal thoughts,” stated Dr. Williamson. “Other symptoms include agitation, severe depression, addiction and uncontrollable rage and aggression.”

The possession or sale of chemical compounds typically found in these synthetic substances is unlawful; however, new chemical variations are created in illicit laboratories each month.

Minnesota #MN | Wild turkey hunters asked to help with avian influenza #HPAI surveillance

Successful wild turkey hunters in Kandiyohi, Pope, Meeker, Swift and Stearns counties can help determine if highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is present in Minnesota wildlife by allowing a sample to be collected from their turkeys.

“HPAI has not yet been found in wild turkeys, but it has been found in domestic turkeys in these and other Minnesota counties,” said Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We chose those five counties to enlist the help of hunters because they have sufficient wild turkey populations.”

Starting Monday, April 20, the DNR is asking successful hunters in these counties to call to schedule an appointment at one of the participating wildlife offices and allow a sample to be collected from their turkey. Samples will include a swab of the trachea and, if the bird has not yet been field dressed, a swab of the cloaca as well. Successful turkey hunters in these counties must call the following offices beginning April 20 to schedule an appointment:

  • Sauk Rapids, 320-223-7840
  • New London, 320-354-2154
  • Glenwood, 320-634-0342
  • Carlos Avery, 651-296-5290
  • Little Falls, 320-223-7869

Sampling only takes a few minutes and the hunter will retain the bird. Hunters are asked to keep wild turkeys in their vehicles, and DNR staff will come out to take the samples at the vehicles. Hunters also will be asked to provide their contact information, harvest information and approximate harvest location.

The 2015 spring wild turkey season is open until Thursday, May 28. The DNR hopes to collect 300 total samples from turkeys to test for HPAI. At this time, the DNR will not be sampling wild turkeys harvested in other counties. Unless their bird is found positive, individual hunters will not be notified of results.

The DNR recommends turkey hunters practice good hygiene while field dressing their birds and cook the meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any viruses and bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from HPAI infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have been detected.

More information about safe handling of wild turkeys and other information on avian influenza in Minnesota is available on the DNR website at

Find more topics related to avian influenza on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health website at

Be well. Practice big medicine.