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.

Oregon | Portland Fire & Rescue now accepting applications for Fire Camp 2012

Portland OR | 20120402

Do you know a young woman between the age of 16 and 19 who is interested in learning what being a firefighter is all about?

Portland Fire & Rescue, in partnership with other metro-area fire agencies, is offering a three-day fire training camp specifically for young women ages 16 to 19.  Fire Camp 2012 will be held June 22, 23, & 24, 2012 at Portland Fire & Rescue’s Training Center located at 4800 NE 122nd Avenue in Portland, Oregon.

The goals of Fire Camp are to instill confidence, build leadership and team skills in young women, and to provide an opportunity to try firefighting through hands-on training.  Fire Camp will be taught and supervised by women firefighters from the Portland metro area.

Fire Camp participants will be involved in hands-on activities, including:

  • Orientation and Practical Exercises: Hydrant and hose evolutions
  • Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA): Participants will practice exercise drills, become familiar with SCBA, and learn search and rescue techniques using the SCBA
  • High Angle Rescue and Confined Space: Participants will learn high angle rescue techniques and simulate a confined space rescue
  • Vehicle Extrication and Medical Response: Participants will work on team building exercises, visit a fire station, become familiar with different firefighting equipment and apparatus, and participate in vehicle extrication and medical response

Fire Camp 2012 will be held at no cost to participants.  This is a non-residential camp and participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from camp.  Applications for Fire Camp 2012 will be accepted now through May 23, 2012.  Interested applicants can get more information and submit an application online at http://www.portlandonline.com/fire/firecamp.

Kansas | Health officials warn of increase in rabies

Topeka KS | 20120402

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) wants to remind the public to have their animals vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian. With 13 animals testing positive for rabies in Kansas since Jan. 1, health officials here anticipate an increase in the number of rabid animals this year compared to last year.

The 13 rabid animals included four skunks, two bats, two horses, two cows, one cat, one coyote and one raccoon. None of the domestic animals were vaccinated against rabies.

“We have a significantly higher number of confirmed rabid animals this year, 13, compared to just four during the same time in 2011,” said KDHE State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Ingrid Garrison. Since 2007, there has been an average of 68 cases of rabid animals a year in Kansas.

Vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, cattle and sheep. “People understand the importance of vaccinating dogs and cats against rabies but often forget about vaccinating horses,” said Dr. Garrison. “Although vaccination of all cattle and sheep is not practical, we encourage vaccination of valuable breeding stock and show animals.” Animals need to have periodic boosters of vaccine to maintain proper protection. Your city or county may have ordinances that require proof of rabies vaccination for your pet.

The risk for human exposure to rabies is real but preventable. Animal rabies is common in Kansas, and skunks are the animals most likely to have the disease. However, skunks can pass the virus to other animals, such as dogs, cats, cattle and horses. Prevention of human rabies depends on vaccinating domestic animals, eliminating human exposures to stray and wild animals, and providing exposed persons with prompt post-exposure rabies treatment.

“Vaccinating animals against rabies not only protects our pets, but our families as well,” said Dr. Garrison.

KDHE offers these tips to prevent rabies:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate all dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and valuable breeding stock and show animals (cattle and sheep) against rabies.
  • If bitten by an animal, seek medical attention and report the bite to your local public health department or animal control department immediately.
  • If your animal is bitten, contact your veterinarian or local health department for advice.
  • If you wake up in a room with a bat present, even if there is no evidence of a bite or scratch, seek medical attention.
  • Do not handle or feed wild animals. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Do not try to nurse sick wild animals back to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.

For more information about rabies, contact your veterinarian, local health department or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment at 1-877-427-7317.

Alabama | No hepatitis A outbreak in Tuscaloosa County

Montgomery AL | 20120402

As of March 29, 2012, only one case of hepatitis A has been identified in Tuscaloosa County in a single food handler.

According to Dr. Donald Williamson, State Health Officer, “At this time, no additional cases have been identified. I want to thank the owner and managers of the McDonald’s at 2000 McFarland Blvd. for sending the food handler home as soon as they knew he was sick. Their quick response was the best prevention to protect the community, since the most common way to transmit hepatitis A is person to person.”

On Wednesday, March 28, the Tuscaloosa County Health Department vaccinated 260 people.

Customers who visited before March 14 should continue watching for signs and symptoms of hepatitis A infection, which appear 2 to 6 weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine, light stools and jaundice (yellowness of eyes or skin). The disease varies in severity, from mild cases lasting 2 weeks or less, to more severe, cases lasting 4 to 6 weeks or longer. Persons who become ill should contact their health care provider immediately.

Frequent and thorough handwashing is essential to stopping the spread of any infectious disease, including hepatitis A. Effective handwashing includes use of warm soapy water for 20 seconds and washing the backs of hands, wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails.

Those having questions about hepatitis A may call 1-800-338-3874. The Health Department will continue to monitor the community for additional hepatitis A cases.

Delaware | First anti-viral resistant flu case identified for 2011-2012 season

New Castle DE | 20120402

Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) identified an antiviral-resistant influenza case on March 19 in a 1-year-old child from New Castle County. The child was hospitalized and has fully recovered. This is Delaware’s first known case of influenza resistant to oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) for the current flu season.

The case, which is still under investigation, tested positive for influenza A/H1N1 in mid-February. The specimen was part of a random sample submitted for routine anti-viral resistance testing.

“Random sampling is done routinely to determine levels of antiviral resistance,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). “Of 21 Delaware samples tested for resistance from November 23, 2011, to March 12, 2012, only this one case has been found to be anti-viral resistant.”

The antibiotic Oseltamivir is the preferred treatment for confirmed cases of influenza. Resistance to oseltamivir is very rare and only 0.5 percent of samples tested by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this season have been found to be oseltamivir-resistant. There is no reason for medical providers to change treatment approaches at this time.

As always, DPH recommends the following precautions for both the public and clinicians:

  • Get vaccinated against the flu. Vaccinations are available in most physician’s offices and many pharmacies.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs/sneezes with a tissue, or cough/sneeze into the inner elbow and not into the hands.
  • Anyone who is sick, should stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever ends. This recommendation includes being fever-free for 24 hours after stopping use of fever reducing medications.
  • Employers are encouraged to be flexible with their employees on the issue of staying home when ill.

For additional information, please contact or visit: DPH Bureau of Epidemiology 1-888-295-5156 or 302-744-1033 or at www.flu.delaware.gov or www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2011-2012.htm

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.

Maine | 25 years since the Flood of 1987 devastated the state

Augusta ME | 20120402

25 years ago this weekend, the State of Maine suffered one of the worst natural disasters in its history.

Maine had a normal snowpack, and normal flood potential in late March of 1987. However, a warm rainstorm brought 4 to 6 inches of rain to the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire, which combined with 6 or more inches of melted snow. The water ran over frozen ground, and streams and rivers began to rise. Flooding became disastrous on April 1, 1987 on Maine’s major rivers. The result:

  • At least 2100 homes flooded; 215 destroyed, 240 with major damage
  • At least 400 small businesses impacted
  • Countless roads and bridges destroyed or damaged
  • Fort Halifax historic site in Winslow washed away
  • Losses estimated at over $100 million — which equates to $200-plus million in today’s dollars

25 years later, many things have improved in the state:

  • Innovative local acquisition and relocation projects in Winslow, Guilford, Allagash, Fort Fairfield, Canton and more have resulted in dozens of homes and businesses being moved out of harm’s way.
  • Emergency management has become much more professional and effective statewide; the state to county to local network is strong across the state.
  • Technological advances and improvements in interoperable communications make it easier to share information quickly among public officials, first responders and the public
  • Code Enforcement Officer training and certification and outreach to surveyors, engineers, lenders and insurance agents has resulted in better understanding and implementation of floodplain management, mitigation measures and flood insurance programs, all of which reduce vulnerability to flooding.
  • The coordination among federal and state agencies and Maine’s private sector river basin managers through the River Flow Advisory Commission is stronger than ever. Constant open information exchange among all parties leads not only to better forecasts and warnings, but also mitigation strategies.

Despite advances in mitigation and preparedness, there are always opportunities for improvement. A study by the University of Maine Land and Water Resources Center in 1987 noted that floods become disasters by virtue of the placement of people and property in their way. Contributing factors to flood damage cited in the report remain important to consider today:

  • Urban development including buildings and parking lots can increase and pollute stormwater runoff;
  • Development in the floodplain is at risk not only from flood water but from contamination and debris;
  • Lack of preparation and awareness by property owners in the floodplain increases vulnerability dramatically;
  • Shortcomings in warnings and the failure of people to take warnings seriously may result in life-threatening situations and additional property loss.

In theory, a flood of this magnitude should occur only once in a hundred years or more. In reality, it can happen at any time when the wrong weather factors come together. Though we cannot stop such a flood from occurring, we can all try to reduce its effects.

Maine communities can:

  • Practice responsible floodplain management
  • Prepare and practice realistic emergency plans to respond to floods
  • Think ahead and plan for what it would take to recover economically from a major flood.

Maine residents and business owners can:

  • Learn about their flood risk
  • Make sure they have adequate flood insurance (homeowners and business insurance does not cover flood damage)
  • Make sure they have emergency plans for their families and businesses
  • “Stay tuned” to weather forecasts and warnings at all times

All this adds up to one very important message:

  • Be ready, because it will happen again.

To learn more:

Maine | Former volunteer firefighter sentenced for starting Downeast wildfires

Augusta ME | 20120402

A Pleasant Point man has been sentenced for his role in a rash of wildfires that occurred last summer in Washington County.

Timothy Tiess, 37, entered into a plea agreement in Washington County Superior Court in Machias earlier this week and was sentenced to serve 18 months in jail. According to Maine Forest Service forest rangers, Tiess was accused of starting fires in Marion Township, Edmunds Township, Day Block Township, Wesley, Pembroke and Perry in July 2011. A total of less than 10 acres was burned.

Tiess originally was charged with five counts of arson and one count of aggravated criminal mischief for starting a series of wildfires in Downeast Maine. Tiess became the subject of an intensive investigation that involved undercover surveillance and a multi-agency task force led by Maine Forest Service (MFS) forest rangers.

Tiess, who served as a volunteer firefighter with the Pleasant Point Fire Department, pleaded guilty to the single felony count of aggravated criminal mischief (Class C), while the five counts of arson were dismissed in the plea agreement. He was sentenced to nine months in the Washington County jail and received a consecutive sentence of an additional nine months on a probation revocation for a previous charge in Kennebec County.

The defendant currently is in custody at the Washington County Jail and began serving his sentence on Tuesday.

According to Ranger Sgt. Courtney Hammond of the Maine Forest Service’s Jonesboro office, Tiess became a subject of investigation last summer after witnesses described a vehicle similar to one owned by Tiess racing away from several of the fire scenes. Tiess also became the primary suspect early in the investigation due to his three prior convictions for other fire-related incidents from the 1990s, which involved structures in southern Maine.

MFS forest rangers conducted a search warrant in August at Tiess’ Pleasant Point residence and seized evidence, including a vehicle, which supported the charges against him, Hammond said.

The MFS forest rangers were assisted by the Maine Fire Marshal’s Office, the Maine State Police, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, and the Pleasant Point Police Department. Hammond coordinated the investigation, which also involved eight MFS forest rangers and forest ranger pilots.

“The fire starts were in a large geographic area and were set sporadically over the period,” Hammond said. “Quick response by Maine Forest Service forest rangers and volunteer firefighters kept the fires from growing into dangerous incidents.”

“I am satisfied that the hard work of our forest rangers has resulted in this conviction,” said Bill Hamilton, MFS chief forest ranger, “and we feel that the residents of Downeast Maine can take comfort in that fact.” He added that the MFS forest rangers were very pleased that they received tips from the public and assistance from other law enforcement agencies.

Maine Forest Rangers serve in the Maine Department of Conservation, Maine Forest Service, Forest Protection Division. Their mission is to protect Maine’s citizens and its natural resources through wildfire control, natural resource law enforcement, incident management and disaster response.

Citizens can provide confidential information on suspicious wildfire by calling with Wildfire Arson Hotline at 1-800-987-0257.

For more information about the Maine Forest Rangers, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/ffchome.htm

For more information about the Maine Forest Service, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/index.shtml

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.