Emergency Services News
Updated April 4, 2005
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TO: State Fire Instructors, County Fire Coordinators
FROM: James A. Burns
DATE: July 1, 2004
RE: Training Authorization Letter

Attached for your information and use are the Training Authorization Letter and associated policy statement for its use. Use of this form and policy is to ensure that all students attending training courses delivered by the Office of Fire Prevention and Control have the necessary medical clearances and authorization to attend certain courses. In addition, student firefighters under 18 years of age must have parental or legal guardian approval to attend any training course.

The fire chief’s (or assistant chief’s) authorization and medical clearance portion of the Training Authorization Letter will be phased in from August 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005. Students will be encouraged to submit this form before any units that require the use of Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for the training courses listed in the attached policy. Effective April 1, 2005, the Training Authorization Letter will be required at the time of course registration (first unit) for the training courses listed in the attached policy.

The second portion of the form, pertaining to student information and parental/legal guardian consent to participate in a training course for students under the age of 18 is effective immediately. Without this authorization, students under the age of 18 cannot attend or participate in training courses offered by OFPC.

Please take the time to read and understand the attached policy statement. If you have any questions concerning this policy and its implementation, please contact the Fire Service Bureau fire protection specialist assigned to your county, Chief Thomas Wutz or Deputy Chief Andrew Dickinson at (518) 474-6746.

Updated February 23, 2005

What Separates the Winners from the Losers in Grants?
(Article taken from VolunteerFD.org)

Many departments, particularly volunteer departments, fight a continuous and ongoing battle in funding their existence. Shrinking tax bases, poor economies and swings from the budget axe take their toll on all departments daily and have become the norm, instead of an occasional problem area. Most fundraising activities are marginally successful and generally allow us to keep fuel in our vehicles or keep the lights and phones turned on at the station and little else. So how do we continue to wrestle with this beast and serve our populations and keep our members safe?

One answer to that question is through the use of grant strategy; planning, researching, developing and applying for grants. The grants ballgame is very much like playing the lottery and simply stated,” If you don’t play, you can’t win”. Quite a few of you are obviously playing the game, as 24000 of you applied for this grant last year. Many of you got your “Dear John’s” last week and this might have been the second or third time you have received a rejections notice for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. I am sure many of you are asking the obvious question, “What separates the winners from the losers”?

This past year I purposely took on 18 departments who had previously had their grant applications rejected for a minimum of 2-3 years. This was done purposely, with the intent of conducting an experiment to see what impact “applying the rules” would have on the outcomes. Apparently my observations about what they were doing wrong were correct, as 14 of those departments were funded this year after using this approach to their grant applications.

Part of this problem lies in not understanding exactly what a grant is, or what is required to get a grant. Let’s examine these two issues and see if a little knowledge can tear away the frightening mask that covers the face of this imaginary “boogey man”.

One of Mr. Webster’s definitions of a grant is particularly applicable to fire departments grants: “giving to a claimant or petitioner something that could be withheld”. In the world of public safety “grant” means; a gift or monetary award to perform certain deeds or services and to achieve certain goals while solving a particular problem(s) exclusive to your agency and your served populations.

Applying for, and being awarded a grant, is not just simply saying,” I need money” and then sticking out your hand. In that scenario, the only thing likely to be placed into your hand will be a rejection notice. All grant programs are offers to fund solutions to problems that exist for your community and, for which no other source of funding is available. Grants are, in essence, a program / project to resolve community problems. Please pay particular attention to the use of the word “program” here.

The first thing everybody needs to understand is that all grant programs have” funding priorities” assigned to them .We need to remember that it is “their” money ,and if you want “their” money, you must address “their” priorities. If you don’t, you have just failed the basic test of getting your grant into the competitive range.

In the AFGP Guidelines document the “primary reason” for this program is stated as being “to enhance firefighter safety”. What can we infer from this statement? They are seeking to make the individual firefighter safe. Those of you who applied should now ask yourself what your response was to the question that was asked in the grant application, “How many firefighter related injuries has your department had during the last three years”? Almost without fail, every rejected application I read had answered that question with “0”. Now, if the primary purposes of the grant is to enhance firefighter safety and you answered that you had no injuries in three years, what do you suppose a grant reviewer, or in this case the “computer reviewer” would conclude? The computer will assume that you run a very safe operation and that you do not need any help with safety related matters. Guess what? In the words of the noted southern comedian, John Engvall, “Here’s your sign!”

You incorrectly assumed that they meant a “workman’s comp related injury” or one that “required formal medical intervention” didn’t you? Wrong! All they asked you for was how many “injuries”. They did not say what severity, or ask you how many went to the ER, they simply asked how many reported injuries did your department have. True, none of us wants to be labeled as having an “unsafe” department but, let’s be real here folks. Your workman’s comp insurer and the State reporting requirements specifically tell you what type of injuries need to be reported to them. USFA is not asking you that. You are trying to read too much into what is being asked.

How many of you have been fighting a structure fire and the smoke column shifted with the wind and you sucked in some smoke? You probably had to go get into the clean air, or sit on the rescue truck and suck some O2 and then you went about your business. If your grant request was for SCBA equipment does it not make sense that you should have some “smoke inhalation” injuries in order to justify the need for new SCBA and individually fitted face masks? The key to this is you need to have “documented” these injuries. That can be as simple as making a notation on a run record that FF Smith suffered a small cut on his right hand which was treated at the scene and no formal medical attention was needed.

My inquiries of these Chief’s also showed that many of you did not understand how critical these answers are that the application asks you to answer in the front of the grant. People, there were 24000 applications received for this program. Do you think that a human being reads every one of them first? No, they don’t! When you are dealing with this many grant applications you have to “screen” them somehow. A computer tabulates and assigns points to the answers you provide in those questions. If, in the end, your score does not reach a certain level you never make it into the competitive range. That means a human being never reads your request! All of the work you did in the narrative section now becomes moot.

It is vitally important that the answers to those “activity specific” questions are not put in “willy-nilly”. The numbers need to be researched thoroughly. They should be accurate and they need to be complete. You have to do some research here folks; just throwing in a number is a sure-fire way to get your grant scored lower than it needs to be. Do the work, do the math!

A grant writer must be an artist. You are providing the funding source, or “grantor”, with a picture of your community, its problems, your department’s problems, and the proposed solution. Many times I have received grants for review and am presented with what amounts to a black and white picture describing the proposed program. What is needed is an 8 x 10, color glossy, 5 mega pixel digital image. The problem with them is they lack sufficient detail. A person sitting on a review panel should not be left with unanswered questions about your proposal when they are finished reading it.

There are several elements asked for in this grant application narrative. You should address each of these and use the headings provided by USFA, the reviewer is then assured that you are addressing each of those concerns by doing so.

1.Project Description – This defines the problem you are experiencing in your department. Why does it exist? What have you done to try and correct the problem yourselves? Why haven’t you funded this project yourselves? How many runs or calls did you answer last year? How many of them were for mutual aid? How big is your service area? How many people live there? What critical infrastructure do you protect? You will generally need three years average and the most current yearly figures for the grant application. This is also the area where you should tug at the emotions of the reader. Grant writers call this the “make em’ bleed, make em’ cry factor”. It is critical to grab the attention of the reader and impress upon them that you need outside help to solve this problem.

2.Financial Need – Here is where you need to know where your budget is derived from. How much was it last year? How much did you spend on the lights, building mortgage, maintenance of vehicles, fuel, equipment repair etc.? Why can’t you fund this yourselves? Did you even bother to ask your governing boards for assistance? Did the voters turn down the last tax referendum? Did you have two major corporations shutter their plants and move to Mexico? Why are you in need? These are the questions you need to answer or tell the reviewer about in your grant application. You have to provide hard facts here, so start digging up those statistics and newspaper articles about why you can’t fund these activities with your current budget. What is the primary economic structure of your community? What is the average median income for a resident of your community? This is all statistical data which is published and available on the Internet or through your own records. The reviewer needs to understand why you are in the financial predicament that you are in and what efforts you are making to deal with it. Quote your debt service on mortgages to build the firehouse or pay off your apparatus. Let them know that the City just paid for a new water plant to bring the water pressure up and to extend lines and hydrants into new service areas. Bring in the “bean counters and number crunchers” amongst your members here. This is not a place where you should be short sighted. It takes experience to put an accurate budget down on paper. Most of us do not have this skill, it is one that is taught and this is an area where you should call upon the first rule of proper management, “surround yourself with competent people and listen to them”. If you do not have a budget expert amongst your staff, seek one out. Most communities are happy to lend the expertise of their city treasurer, a bank loan officer or similar type person to assist you in preparing a proper and accurate budget.

3.Cost Benefit- Otherwise known as “bang for their buck”. All grantors, or givers, want to know that the most people will benefit from the least amount of money spent. They don’t give away money to be spent willy-nilly or to benefit just your individual department. You must show that the community and other surrounding agencies as well (think Mutual Aid here) will benefit from your good fortune and their generous gifts. It is vitally important that you properly address this in detail. You have to get out of the “us” mode and into the “we” mode here. The guidelines document mentions the words “interagency interoperability” at least 3-4 times. That is you clue here. You must show how helping you. Will help them as well.

4.Operational Outcomes –This is new area in this year’s application, so pay attention closely. This is where you must explain to the reviewer what the results will be in increasing your operational capabilities or efficiency. You should talk about how obtaining the new equipment increases your capacity to fulfill a void that previously existed in your capabilities. It is also where you should discuss the difference it will make in how you did things before, and how you will be able to do things now.

Those that play by the rules closest, usually win! Good luck with your applications this year.

Updated February 17, 2005
Stress Debriefing TEAM
As I have mentioned at previous meetings and emails, Richard Angehr and Dutch Egglestone from the Ellis Hospital Mental Health Unit are involved in the process of establishing a Stress Debriefing Team for Emergency Responders. They have been training for over a year.

We have used the team in the county a few times, and have been very successful in their debriefings. They are now in a position to be seeking volunteers from Police, Fire and EMS to join the team to widen it’s understandings and capabilities in providing debriefings to the emergency response community.

A few years back there was some interest in forming a unit in the county, but it never came to pass.

Ellis Hospital and their Mental Health Unit have decided to undertake this worthwhile project, which will be a major assistance to our response community, in the time of need.

As the attached note (below) states they are in the process of soliciting interested volunteers to attend a training session in March.

Your interest is appreciated in assisting to expand the team with volunteers who are capable of participating and being involved.

Thank you for your assistance.

Dan Fiorillo

We are a team of concerned individuals who have been trained and have come together to offer support to those in the community who are impacted by traumatic events. Our services are primarily for emergency services personnel (EMS, police, firefighters, nurses, hospital workers, disaster relief workers, etc.) but may also include schools, businesses and other groups and individuals who may suffer a traumatic event. Emergency service workers provide care to our community in situations which are often physically draining, dangerous and may be emotionally traumatic. They provide care for us, but who provides care for the caregivers? It is our goal to make this care available to our community.

We train in Critical Incident Stress Management, which is an organized and accepted method of assisting emergency personnel to appropriately manage the psychological trauma of emergency work. CISM is a psychological and educational process designed to lessen the impact of major events on emergency personnel and accelerate the normal recovery of normal people who are experiencing high levels of stress after an abnormal event. We provide intervention shortly after these events occur and make appropriate referrals for follow up care as needed.

Line of duty death or serious injury of a fellow emergency worker

Multi-casualty incidents

Suicide of a fellow emergency worker

Serious injury or death of a civilian as a result of operational procedures

Significant events involving children as victims

Loss of a victim’s life following a prolonged or an extraordinary rescue effort

Incidents that attract excessive media interest

Any incident charged with profound emotion

Events where victim is a relative or is known to rescuers

Any incident where circumstances are so unusual or distressing as to produce a
high level of immediate emotional reaction.

We are recruiting emergency personnel to be part of our team. We are looking for police officers, firefighters, EMS workers and others of the first responder community to join us. We are going to be providing, at no charge, a two-day training on March 11 and 12, 2005. This is the first level and will be followed later this year with a two-day advanced course. More information on CISM can be found at www.ICISF.org.

After completion of this training, we will be holding a monthly meeting to manage team business and for further educational purposes. We plan on a team of 40 members so that the number of call-outs to any one individual should not be excessive. If you are interested in providing this service to our community, we will be glad to meet with you to see if our team is right for you.

You may contact Dutch Eggleston, Team President, at 330-3674 or 831-6966, or by e-mail at eegglest@nycap.rr.com, or egglestone@ellishospital.org, or Rich Angehr, Clinical Director, at 831-6970 or angehrr@ellishospital.org.

Fire Extinguisher Recall
Kidde has determined that the thread area on certain black Zytel nylon valve assemblies installed into welded steel cylinders can be subject to various levels of degradation under certain conditions over time. The head of the extinguisher could separate from the cylinder. Here is the web site with all the info:

Oxygen Cylinder Explodes During Equipment Check, Virginia Beach FD
(The following information is forwarded by the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs Public Relations Committee for your information - February 10, 2005)

Please ensure that your oxygen cylinder is properly secured in the ems bag. When you check off the O2 cylinder, remove the cylinder from the bag to a well vented area and check the pressure and then bleed off the residual in this well vented area. Not inside the rig! Make sure that you are using a proper none sparking device to turn the cylinder on (not a steel adjustable wrench), make sure your o-ring is in place and
finally, make sure that penlights and other battery operated devices are properly stowed.

The crew of ladder 16 narrowly escape major injury and a large fire that could have burned the rig up. After checking off the ems bag, it was zipped back up and placed back in the compartment. The MRL bag was placed on top. The FF then removed the suction bag and started to check it off when fire emitted from the ems bag. The FF grabbed the bag and tossed in on the bay floor where other FF's tried to extinguish it. The relief valve was sounding and the impinging flame from the relief valve caused the cylinder to fail. Notice the breech in the cylinder wall at the shoulder of the cylinder. No one was injured in the fire or cylinder failure, but imagine the burn to the face level of a FF when the cylinder failed if it was still in the compartment.

A preliminary investigation suggest that the ignition sequence could have been a pen light (found melted to the underside of the cylinder) and under the pen light was a adjustable wrench. The O2 somehow leaked and saturated the bag. The ems bag was replaced back in the compartment and MRL placed on top. The weight of the MRL compressed the cylinder on the penlight against the wrench.

This information is still preliminary and was put together with the help of BC Mike Gurley, BC Vance Cooper and John Lyons. We will attempt to find the cause of the oxygen leak through a couple of channels formally. As more information comes forward, we will certainly let you know.

It is amazing that these circumstances (Dominos) can come together and cause such a terrible event---but no one was hurt this time (except for noise exposure), and damage was confined to equipment. Please check your ems gear and make sure pen lights are not floating in the bottom of the bag and that your wrench is plastic or non-sparking and that you have the regulator gasket/o-ring in place and you turn the O2 completely off. Pressurized gases including oxygen and air are dangerous and you need to handle them carefully.

Thank you for your attention, if you know of any similar circumstances involving O2, please email BC John Harvey or myself.


Captain Stephen T. Miles
Shift Safety Officer "A" Shift
Virginia Beach Fire Department


Updated February 2, 2005

2005 Assistance To Firefighters Grant (AFG) Workshop

Thursday February 24, 2005
Latham Fire Department
226 Old London Road
Latham, NY 12110

To attend please email the following information to: michael.wojnar@mall.house.gov

Please indicate the session you plan on attending:
1:00 PM or
7:00 PM
Name of attendee
Fire Depart./Company /EMS agency name
Grant contact name
Agency Address
Phone & Fax numbers
Department Email address & website (if applicable)
Name of Chief

Congress has appropriated over $600 million for the 2005 Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The application period is tentatively scheduled for March 7 to April. Potential applicants and interested parties may view the entire workshop schedule as well as the other fire grant program information, at http://www.firegrantsupport.com (to be posted in near future)

The Fire Grant program for this year is very similar to the program from last. Congress has made a change allowing the program office to award a limited number of grants (on a competitive basis) to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organizations that that are not affiliated with a fire department.

Questions and assistance may be obtained from email firegrants@dhs.gov
Or by calling 1-866-274-0960

Directions to Latham Fire House:
Proceed East, Route 2 (east of Latham Circle), (stay in left lane) Take left turn on to Old London Road, at the Mobil Station, go approximately 2/10 mile to fire house on left.

Updated January 25, 2005

DHS Releases Applicant Workshop Schedule for 2005 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

January 19, 2005 - The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program posted today the initial schedule of applicant workshops for the 2005 Fire Grants.

This year, the Congress has appropriated over $600M specifically for Fire Grants. The application period is tentatively scheduled for March 7 to April 8. Potential applicants and interested parties can view the schedule, as well as other fire grant program information, at (http://www.firegrantsupport.com)

In the coming days and weeks, the AFG Program expects to revise and update the schedule, as new locations are added or currently scheduled workshops are amended. Potential applicants are encouraged to check the AFG website from time to time to verify information in the schedule. Requests for additional workshop locations should be made to one of your AFG regional representatives. Regional
contacts and telephone numbers are also available at http://www.firegrantsupport.com

The Fire Grants for this year are very similar to those from last year. There is little change. One change is that the Congress has directed the program office to award a limited number of grants (on a competitive basis) to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organizations that are not affiliated with a fire department.

The AFG program office, in addition to updates of the schedule, plans in the near future to post a copy of the PowerPoint presentation used at the workshops; Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Program Guidance; frequently asked questions (FAQ's), and; a link to the online tutorial for the FY2005 application. All of these will help an
applicant submit a competitive application for the FY 2005 fire grants. In FY2004, the online tutorial was especially helpful for applicants, and received over 80,000 individual visits.

Questions about the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program may be directed by electronic mail to firegrants@dhs.gov, or you may call the toll free number at

Updated January 4

New USFA online course helps prepare Emergency Medical Service responders to operate at multiple casualty incidents

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, announced today a new online course designed to assist Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel to respond more effectively when faced with a Multiple Casualty Incident (MCI). The new independent study course, EMS Operations at Multi-Casualty Incidents is a 4-hour, web-based course that addresses preparedness planning; management of the incident; safe and efficient triage, treatment, and transportation of patients; and the de-escalation of the response. It is not intended to provide detailed steps in the care of patients.

"Hardly a day passes without reading or hearing about a multiple casualty incident occurring somewhere in the nation," said Brown. "President Bush, Secretary Ridge and I continue to ensure that all first responders continue to receive courses like this to support their efforts to protect and better serve our communities."

Upon successful completion of this course, the participant/student will be able to:

Describe the characteristics of multiple casualty incidents.
Describe the types and indicators of CBRNE incidents.
Describe the steps of responding to a Multiple Casualty Incident, including preparedness planning, triage, treatment, transportation, and incident demobilization.
Describe the purpose of triage and how to perform it.
Describe the purpose of decontamination and the resources required to perform it.
Describe specialized medical treatment that can be administered to victims of CBRNE incidents.

An MCI can occur as a result of many situations, including a transportation crash, the collapse of a building or bleachers, a civil disturbance, a severe weather event, a hazardous material release, or a terrorist attack to name a few. Since September 11, 2001, EMS responders are keenly aware of the dangers of MCIs and the additional challenges presented by terrorist attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) agents. The course includes information on safely and effectively dealing with an MCI resulting from an attack involving a CBRNE agent.

EMS subject matter experts from across the country worked with training specialists at FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to develop this course. The course can be found on USFA's Virtual Campus at: http://www.training.fema.gov. The USFA has many other training programs, both online and classroom-based, that are designed to assist emergency responders in becoming better prepared for all types of emergencies. Information on these training programs and other USFA initiatives and publications can be found at www.usfa.fema.gov.

On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.

Updated November 18

Recall Notice - 11/8/04
Access CardioSystems (the "Company") has notified Bound Tree Medical that an urgent recall notice has been posted for all AccessAED and AccessALS Automated External Defibrillators. The recall is a result of potential situations in which the device may experience a catastrophic failure of the shock delivery circuit and potential situations in which the device may turn on unexpectedly.

Bound Tree Medical is working to gather additional information from Access CardioSystems and will communicate further information as it becomes available. We recommend that customers immediately discontinue use and remove from service the items identified in the following manufacturer statement regarding this recall:

Access CardioSystems has become aware of two potential issues involving
certain AEDs that warrant your immediate attention. The following is a description of each potential issue followed by instructions for discontinuing use of all your Access CardioSystems AEDs.

The Company has become aware of a situation involving certain of its AEDs in which the device may experience a catastrophic failure of the shock delivery circuit. The Company's investigation indicates to date that this failure mode is restricted to a specific batch of one device component. To date, the company has received 11 complaints of this occurrence in devices containing the component shown to be associated with this failure mode (representing 0.8% complaint rate within the
affected units). When this potential problem occurs, it is not possible to deliver additional defibrillation shocks.

Although the investigation of this issue is still ongoing, the Company has determined that AEDs with the following serial numbers may have this problem:

AccessAED, AccessALS
Catalog Number: 9100-0100
Affected Serial Numbers: 075690 - 077140

The Company has also become aware of a situation involving certain of
its AEDs in which the ON/OFF button of the device may become inoperative
after the device turns on unexpectedly. The Company's investigation indicates to date that this failure mode is related to a specific manufacturer of a specific device component. To date, the Company has received 33 complaints of this occurrence in devices containing the component (representing a 0.3% complaint rate within the affected units), none of which have involved a patient treatment. If this potential problem occurs, the device may not defibrillate.

Although the investigation of this issue is still ongoing, the Company has determined that AEDs with the following serial numbers may have this problem:

AccessAED, AccessALS
Catalog Number: 9100-0100
Affected Serial Numbers: 075180 - 084760


Important: Certain of the AccessAED or AccessALS AEDs in your possession may have one, both, or neither of the issues described above. However, the Company has made a business decision, effective November 3, 2004, to discontinue manufacturing and marketing ALL models of its AEDs and to discontinue supporting its AEDs that are currently in the field. The Company is no longer accepting orders for disposable parts used with their AEDs. Therefore, when your supply of disposable parts is depleted, please immediately discontinue use of and remove from service all of the Company's AEDs that you have in your possession. It is your responsibility to equip yourself with AEDs that meet your medical needs.

For additional information, we encourage you to contact the Company as follows:

Access CardioSystems
150 Baker Avenue Extension
Suite 108
Concord, MA 01742
Phone: 978-371-4985
Fax: 978-318-9258

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