At Lease 12,000 Schools Located Near Dangerous Chemical Facilities

One of the worst disasters in recent history occurred in 2013 at the West Fertilizer Company plant in West, Texas, when an explosion and fire killed 15 people and injured hundreds more. There were more than 150 buildings in the area that were also destroyed, including several schools located within the vicinity of the plant. The explosion occurred in the evening, long after school children had gone home for the day. Had the incident happened while schools were in session, the number of children killed would likely have been extensive.

According to recent government studies, there are about 12,000 schools which are located within one mile of facilities which house dangerous chemicals. The EPA has required companies to have emergency plans in case of a toxic chemical release or other incident – that is how hazardous these chemicals are. Yet many have schools located withing walking distance.

Studies also show that not only are children in these schools at risk of danger from a hazardous incident, they are also being exposed to hazardous air pollutants which are known to affect neurological and respiratory health.

There is no federal law or regulation that restricts or stipulates distances between schools and facilities that use or store hazardous materials. Any regulations that do exist are at the local level and usually only apply to new schools being built, not to existing buildings.

The discussions of this issue are ongoing, with no real concrete solutions on the immediate horizon. Pushing for safer industrial processes is one factor being addressed, but it does not address what happens in the event of an actual disaster. Those answers appear to still be left to the state and municipalities to figure out.  

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Increase in Active Shooter Response Training

170108141724-fort-lauderdale-airport-shooting-video-vo-tmz-3-exlarge-169Last week’s tragic shooting at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood Airport is another chilling reminder of how vulnerable public places may be when there is a gunman with an agenda. Schools, malls, movie theaters, nightclubs, airports – the list goes on – have all been targeted by shooters.

These incidents have led many business owners, school administrators, and other public officials to ask just how they can prepare in the event the unthinkable happens and active shooter response trainings have expanded far beyond just law enforcement.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends the “run, hide, fight” model of defense for anyone who is trapped and unable to escape an active shooter. The agency recommends getting as far away as possible from where the shooter is and using whatever resources are available to hide behind to block bullets. As a last resort, those trapped should fight back, again using whatever is available as a weapon, such as furniture or fire extinguishers.

Several years ago, Emergency Film Group produced Active Shooter: Rapid Response training video. This program was developed under the direction of a technical committee comprised of experts in law enforcement and emergency response. The program was designed for school administration, law enforcement, emergency management, security and others who may be involved in the response to a mass shooting. To learn more about this program, check here . . .

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A Deadly Danger for Law Enforcement and First Responders in the War on Opioid Epidemic

first responder dangers, law enforcement protection, The opioid epidemic rages on across the nation, with law enforcement and other emergency responders on the front lines, battling to save the lives of the countless number of overdose victims. Naloxone has become standard law enforcement gear in many communities, as police are called on or find high numbers of overdose victims on a daily basis. As officials fight to stop the epidemic, drug traffickers and dealers are one step ahead, coming up with newer, more powerful drugs to flood the streets with. But the newest opioid they are spreading is deadly not only to the addicts who take it but also to emergency responders trying to save their lives.

Carfentanil, a powerful animal tranquilizer, has begun showing up in cities across the country. The drug is the most potent commercial opioid in the world and is said to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine. A 10-milligram dose of the drug can kill a 15,000-pound elephant. That same dosage – diluted and cut up – could kill 500 people. Drug traffickers are mixing the drug with heroin. In some cases, they even disguise it as heroin.

One kilogram of the drug will provide 50 million doses to drug addicts. That was the amount in a package that Canadian Border Services Agency recently intercepted. The drugs, shipped from China, had been destined for Calgary. In this country, Ohio appears to be “port-of-call” for the drug’s entry. The drug has also shown up in Florida and Kentucky.

But not only is the drug deadly to those who inject it, it can also be deadly to anyone who comes in contact with the drug physically since it can be absorbed into the skin. Veterinarians who work with carfentanil use protective masks, gloves, and aprons. A dose as small as the size of a grain of salt is enough to kill a person.

This puts first responders and law enforcement who arrive at the scene of an overdose in serious – if not deadly – danger. Officials have begun calling on law enforcement to no longer perform field testing on drugs they find at the scene because of the potentially fatal risks.

It is critical that all emergency responders are provided with the proper training and equipment to protect themselves from all the potential hazards they face in the field. Emergency Film Group offers several programs which can assist in that training. Check out our extensive training library here. . .



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A Summer of Mass Shootings

There were several mass shootings this summer which resulted in multiple deaths throughout the country. In June, nine people were killed when an assailant opened fire in a Charleston, S.C. church. In July, five members of the military were killed when a shooter opened fire on a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tenn. A second mass shooting in July occurred inside a movie theater in Lafayette, La., where two women were fatally wounded and nine other people injured. And in August, a Virginia television news reporter and her cameraman were shot and killed when a shooter opened fire on them during a live broadcast.


According to a report released last year by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, there were 160 active shooter incidents in this country between 2000 and 2013. Forty-four of those attacks occurred in business settings and resulted in the deaths of 124 victims. Fifteen of the active shooting attacks took place in open space areas, with 45 victims killed. Houses of worship were targets in six of those attacks, and took the lives of 21 victims.

During an active shooter or mass shooting attack, a combined law enforcement, fire, and EMS response is critical. All of these active shooter incidents have led to a change in law enforcement response tactics; however, fire and EMS also need to understand the dangers that lurk at these incidents and how to protect themselves from a shooter determined on taking as many lives possible.


Emergency Film Group’s Active Shooter: Rapid Response DVD is a safety training program for school administration, law enforcement, emergency management and others who may be involved in the response to a mass shooting. This compelling program shows how preparedness for and response to these fast-breaking and dangerous events is a joint effort between police, fire, EMS, community and facility emergency management. The role of trained and equipped tactical medics is depicted as well as the more traditional activities of EMS during mass casualty incidents: scoop and run rescue, triage, treatment, and transport. In addition to providing emergency medical service, firefighters are also depicted assisting law enforcement in forcible entry, firefighting, and managing building sprinkler systems.


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Protecting Emergency Responders from CO Poisoning

Each year, almost 4,000 people die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in this country. Another 10,000 people become seriously ill from this deadly gas, which can be emitted from many common household sources, including attached garages, barbecue grills, ceiling mounted unit heaters, chimneys, gas clothes dryers, gas or oil space heaters, gas refrigerators, gas, oil, wood or coal furnaces, paint removers, pool/spa heaters, tobacco smoke, unvented cooking appliances, unvented heaters, vehicle exhausts, water heaters, and wood burning fireplaces.

In Maine, four young people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by fumes from a generator running in the basement of the cabin they were in. In Maine, four young people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by fumes from a generator running in the basement of the cabin they were in.

Often referred to as “the silent killer,” symptoms of CO poisoning often mimic the same symptoms of the flu or food poisoning. Typical symptoms may include difficulty breathing, drowsiness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Victims who have high levels of CO in their systems may suffer from convulsions and/or fall into a coma, and death.

Because those suffering from CO poisoning often mistake their symptoms for something else, most dispatched calls from victims are treated as medical emergencies, leaving emergency responders dispatched to the locations at risk of becoming victims of CO poisoning, as well. This is why it is critical for responders to have the proper training and proper detection equipment to detect the presence of CO.

melrose-park-carbon-monoxide Nine people were hospitalized with CO poisoning when one of the family members accidentally left a car running in the garage.

Emergency Film Group’s CO: Response to Carbon Monoxide Incidents DVD provides training to EMTs, firefighters, industrial fire teams, poison control center personnel, plant safety personnel and others who may be called upon to safely respond to an incident involving carbon monoxide, the most common type of poisoning responded to by EMS.

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