Oregon | Volunteer firefighter drowns in fishing accident at Harriet Lake

Justin Faijo

Harriet Lake | 20120402

Saturday evening during the eight o’clock hour, rescuers were called to Harriet Lake on second hand information of a small fishing boat that had capsized with two adult males on board.

Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium agencies consisting of Clackamas Fire District, the Sherriff’s Office, and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue responded to the search operation.

Due to the extreme weather and rural location of the incident, it took over an hour for resources driving with lights and siren to arrive at the scene.

One of the fishermen was assisted to shore with hypothermia symptoms, by an unknown bystander, and the second occupant was discovered in the clear 10′ deep water just ten minutes after rescue boats arrived. The second fisherman, Justin Faijo, a Colton Volunteer Firefighter, did not survive the accident and was pronounced dead at 9:30pm.

This tragic loss of a community servant is felt deeply not only in his family, but throughout the close knit brotherhood in the fire service, and the area in which Justin served.

“Justin was a great firefighter and asset to the department. It didn’t take long for me to see the qualities that Justin brought to the department and looked to him to become a leader within the organization. There will be a great loss felt not only in the Colton Fire Department, but to the community as a whole,” stated Fire Chief Richard Beaudoin.

Justin was a talented multi-sport athlete at Colton High School, and joined the Colton Fire Department’s intern program in 2007. In addition to working at Colton Fire, Justin spent the last six years working with the Oregon Department of Forestry as an “Engine Boss.” Justin recently completed officer training and was expected to be promoted to Lieutenant in May.

Please remember both the Faijo family, and the Colton Fire Department members in your thoughts and prayers as they walk through this difficult time of grieving.

California | Woman meets LAFD 911 dispatcher who helped save husband’s life

Eagle Rock CA | 20120402

On February 27, 2012, Deanna Brigidi-Stewart dialed 9-1-1 in extreme distress, after her 35-year-old husband suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Los Angeles Fire Department Firefighter/Dispatcher Al Camacho immediately calmed Mrs. Brigidi-Stewart, guiding her to focus on the situation at hand – initiating teamwork that ultimately saved her husband’s life:

On Friday, March 30, 2012, Mrs. Brigidi-Stewart, her husband and children visited LAFD Metro Fire Communications and met Firefighter/Dispatcher Al Camacho. It was a touching reunion that underscored the importance of trust and timely action whenever life is at risk.

Georgia | Senate passes Bill prohibiting assisted suicide

Atlanta GA | 20120402

The Georgia Senate today passed House Bill 1114 by a vote of 48 to 1. Sponsored in the House by Rep. Setzler and carried in the Senate by Sen. William Ligon (R-Waverly), this legislation prohibits assisted suicide, making it a felony punishable by incarceration of up to 10 years.

“This legislation was crafted to prevent unnecessary deaths as a result of assisted suicide,” said Sen. Ligon. “The passage of HB 1114 was a positive step toward protecting the lives of Georgia’s citizens while also strengthening laws which govern end-of-life care or physician-assisted suicide.”

HB 1114 was drafted in response to the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the state’s assisted suicide law, which prohibits the advertisement of assisted suicide services.

According to this bill, it would be considered a felony punishable by law if an individual knows that someone intends to commit suicide and knowingly and willfully assists in that person’s suicide. The offense is punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years. According to the bill’s provisions, the following individuals are exempt from this law, including:

  • Those dispensing palliative care with the intent to relieve pain but without the intent to cause death;
  • Those withholding treatment with the patient’s consent or other authorized consent;
  • Those dispensing medicine according to a living will or similar document, as long as mercy killing or the deliberate act to end life is not involved;
  • Those withholding treatment pursuant to a living will or similar document; and
  • Those advocating on behalf of a patient in accordance with one of the above exceptions.

Any health care provider convicted of committing this offense must notify the state licensing board and will have their licenses revoked.

Additionally, the act of assisted suicide is covered under the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as a racketeering activity.

HB 1114 will now travel to the Governor’s desk for final approval.

New Jersey | State Police add texting to emergency communications

West Trenton NJ | 20120402

New Jersey residents will now be able to receive critical information from the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) on their cell phones and PDA’s with the use of a free, web-based service.

The NJSP will be using a service called Nixle Connect to deliver important and time sensitive information to the residents of New Jersey. Nixle Connect is an application that allows verified government agencies to communicate with the public via text/SMS, e-mail, and Internet posts. This service is provided at no cost to the department, taxpayers, or residents and unlike other social media applications, Nixle does not contain any 3rd party advertisements.

Messages from the State Police would include reports of missing persons (including AMBER Alerts), traffic incidents with extended delays, crime information, safety tips, community outreach programs, and other public safety information.

“We are excited to use Nixle as part of our comprehensive communication strategy,” commented Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This service allows us to send real-time information directly to the public in critical situations. Whether it’s a natural disaster alert or a missing child advisory, we can now reach New Jersey residents wherever they may be.”

The power of this application is increased as more people register. New Jersey residents can register to receive messages by sending a text message with their zip code to 888777 (data rates may apply depending on your plan). Online registration is also available at www.nixle.com.

“We are proud to have the New Jersey State Police choose Nixle.” stated Eric Liu, Nixle CEO. “With the addition of Nixle, their department is better equipped to serve the eight million residents of the state of New Jersey. When a disaster strikes, there is no better tool to disseminate potentially life saving information to the public than Nixle.”

More than 4,800 government agencies throughout the United States use Nixle to communicate with residents via SMS mobile text messaging, email, the Web, and mobile applications. Over 700,000 citizens use the system. Nixle is strategically partnered with NLETS to offer the only public messaging service on the International Justice and Public Safety network, a system owned by the fifty states and serving every criminal justice agency in the US and Canada. Nixle is a privately held company based in San Francisco, CA.

For more information, visit www.njsp.org or www.nixle.com.

Florida | Broward County moved forward with plan to create countywide 911 dispatch system

Broward County | 20120402

Broward County Commissioners have taken the next step to create a countywide 911 emergency dispatch system to improve public safety with shared funding that is fair and equitable. The goal is to eliminate emergency calls that are misdirected or need to be transferred under the current system and if possible save money through economies of scale and combined operations.

The Commission has agreed to follow recommendations outlined in the final report of the Broward County Consolidation Committee. Recommendations include consolidating the current 11 dispatch centers into three geographically separate dispatch centers; creation of a governing board that includes full representation of participating jurisdictions; performance measures based on best practices exceeding national standards where possible; funding that is equitable, predictable and stable; creation of an implementation committee to determine and identify all details necessary to establish a countywide dispatch system.

“I really believe that we took this light years from where we were to where we are today. The momentum is there. We can do this as a community. We must do this as a community,” said Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler, who served as co-chair of the Consolidation Committee along with City of Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan.

“The greatest single reason we need to pursue this is not economics. It is improving public safety,” Mayor Ryan told the Commission.

Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca served as a member of the Consolidation Committee along with the Broward Sheriff, city managers, police and fire chiefs, mayors and city commissioners and an emergency medicine expert. During a four-month period, there were 24 meetings with more than 300 hours dedicated to information gathering, analysis and debate.

“This is the opportunity for us to at least move forward and put it in their hands to get into the details,” said Commissioner LaMarca, referring to the establishment of an implementation committee. “One of the most important things that government does is to protect domestic tranquility.”

A number of Commissioners emphasized the immediate need to develop a new way to fund dispatch services. Broward County currently provides $19 million in funding to BSO that pays for the unincorporated area and a number of cities, but not others. Several cities currently fund and operate their own dispatch systems.

“It’s about fairness, everybody paying for the system they’re getting service for,” said Mayor John E. Rodstrom, Jr., noting that the city of Fort Lauderdale recently paid $4 million to the Broward Sheriff’s Office to continue dispatch services.

“It’s going to be a very simple decision and it comes down to how much will it cost and how is it going to be paid for,” said Commissioner Sue Gunzburger.

“The fairness issue in my mind is that it is a system we all depend on no matter where we are from, where we are at any given time. Let’s make sure we don’t have smaller cities and poorer communities carrying a burden beyond their means,” said Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness.

Commissioner Ilene Lieberman discussed a number of issues she deemed most important, which included funding, implications of closing some dispatch centers, the ability of cities to pay, required staffing and the location of dispatch centers once consolidated.

“We are very hopeful that as we move through this next phase of the process, that this is all vetted, this is all reviewed, and then a determination of who might want to be in it. Because that’s what the formula for dollar success would be based on. Once we know that, then this group will determine if it is worth going forward. I believe that ultimately it will be,” said Commissioner Wexler.

The Broward County Consolidation Implementation Advisory Board (BCCIAB), which will be comprised of city managers/administrators from interested cities, the County administrator, the Broward Sheriff, and a representative from the Broward County Police Chiefs Association and the Broward County Fire Chiefs Association, will submit a draft report to the Commission by November 15, 2012, and a final report no later than February 1, 2013.

New York City | FDNY partners with Jewish leaders for a fire safe Passover

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, Chief of Department Edward Kilduff, First Deputy Commissioner Don Shacknai and FDNY Chaplain Rabbi Joseph Potasnik with some of the Jewish leaders who attended the discussion about Passover fire safety.

New York City | 2012-04-02

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, Chief of Department Edward Kilduff, Brooklyn Borough Commander Chief James Leonard, FDNY Chaplain Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and several staff chiefs welcomed more than 30 Jewish leaders to FDNY Headquarters on March 28, to discuss ways to keep their communities fire safe during Passover.

FDNY fire safety initiatives have significantly reduced the number of burn injuries during the holiday, which includes customs such as bread burning and lighting candles.

“We all have the same goal today – to save lives,” Commissioner Cassano said. “It’s all about working together for fire safety, while still maintaining your rich traditions.”

Several years ago there were multiple burn injuries reported during Passover that prompted the FDNY to coordinate education programs in the Jewish community about ways they can safely continue their traditions and reduce injury rates. As a result, burn injuries are down significantly – with only one minor injury reported in 2011 and none in 2010.

“The more of this information we can get into the community and the more we work together, the better off we’ll all be,” Chief Kilduff said.

During the discussion at Headquarters, Chiefs Kilduff and Leonard gave a presentation that included photos from fires that occurred during previous Passover holidays, noting how they started and ways they could be prevented. They also provided many fire safety tips for the home.

Members of the Fire Safety Education Unit also attended the discussion, to answer any questions and hand out stacks of literature both English and Yiddish.

As the meeting concluded, many of the Jewish leaders thanked the FDNY for its commitment to keeping fire deaths and injuries down in their communities.

“We’re trying to be sensitive to your needs, but also keep everyone safe,” Chief Leonard said.

New York | State Health Commissioner orders a stop to sale of synthetic marijuana

Albany NY | 2012-04-02

New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. has issued an order of summary action banning the sale of synthetic marijuana products in New York State.

These substances, generally referred to as “synthetic marijuana”, consist of plant material coated by chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. These products are being sold as a “legal alternative” to marijuana in convenience stores, smoke shops, and tobacco stores with brand names such as “Spice”, “K2″, “Mr. Nice Guy”, and “Galaxy Gold”.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called upon the Department of Health to take action to ban the sale of these dangerous products.

The order states, “synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to severe adverse reactions, including death and acute renal failure, and commonly cause: tachycardia (increased heart rate); paranoid behavior, agitation and irritability; nausea and vomiting; confusion; drowsiness; headache; hypertension; electrolyte abnormalities; seizures; and syncope (loss of consciousness).

The Commissioner’s order calls for sales and distribution of these products to cease immediately. And it calls upon local health officials to distribute the order and check for compliance.

Last week, the Commissioner sent special health alerts to local health departments, emergency departments and other health care providers to make them aware of the dangers of these products.

The order is available here.

Vermont | State launches environmental public health tracking web portal

Burlington | 2012-04-02

The Vermont Department of Health today launched a new online resource that brings environmental and public health data together in one place.

Now available at www.healthvermont.gov/tracking, the Environmental Public Health Tracking portal is designed to help policymakers, health professionals, researchers, students, residents and anyone who is interested explore questions about links between our environment and health.

To date, the portal contains searchable data and information about the state’s air quality, asthma hospitalizations, birth defects, cancer, carbon monoxide poisoning, drinking water, heart attacks, lead poisoning and reproductive health. As part of the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, Vermont’s portal also links to national data.

“Vermont has a reputation for having a healthy environment and a healthy population, but we are not immune to hazards that threaten public health, said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “Tracking data are already helping us better understand how our environment affects health, and making it easier to identify and take action against true health threats. This is a great start in making information relevant to Vermonters easy to find and use – and we’ll continue to build on this.”

Mapping the state’s drinking water supply systems is one example of a Tracking project. Starting with the 33 largest public community water systems serving about 60 percent of the state’s population, Tracking staff will map each water system service area with E-911 addresses, and link these to water test results. Residents will ultimately be able to locate their house and view reports of drinking water quality from their water system operator.

The Health Department was awarded a $3.5 M grant from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in December 2009 to plan and build the statewide Tracking portal infrastructure and database. Data and expertise are drawn from the Health Department and the Agency of Natural Resources/Department of Environmental Conservation.

Join Tracking on Facebook – A new Facebook page created by the Health Department will also provide news, updates and information related to Vermont’s environmental public health tracking project: www.facebook.com/VermontTracking