Security Challenges

14358208Several months ago, the U.S. Department of Education released an updated version of The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting. One of the topics covered in the handbook is instructions regarding how organizations can successfully implement the Jeanne Clery Act.

The Jeanne Clery Act – which was passed in 1990 – requires all universities and colleges which receive federal funding to track and report information regarding crime on campus, as well as efforts that are put in place to improve campus security. The law is named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old freshman attending Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1986, she was raped and murdered in her campus residence hall by another student. After the murder, it was revealed that there had been more than 35 other violent crimes reported at the school within the prior three years. Her parents sued the university, arguing that had they known about the university’s crime record, their daughter would never have attended the school. They were awarded $2 million in damages.

The law requires that all schools submit their annual security report by October 1 each year to both current and prospective students. The report must contain the following:

  • Prior three years of campus crime statistics;
  • Description of all crime prevention programs established by the school;
  • Policy regarding safety and security measurements provided; and
  • Required procedures in alleged sexual offense investigations and prosecutions.

The Clery Act also requires the school’s security or campus police departments to keep an up-to-date log of all crimes which have been reported. Each incident report must include the type of incident, date, time, and location. The log must have at least the most recent 60 days’ worth of reports and request for any incidents which were reported prior must be provided within two days of the request. All schools must have a record of the past eight years’ worth of crime statistics on site (beginning in 2012).

Each institution is also required to have a procedure in place to provide timely warnings to students and others on campus of any crimes which present a threat to everyone’s safety.

Providing a safe and secure environment – whether it is a college campus, hospital, industry, or any other organization – can be challenging with all the different types of threats to safety that exist today. Emergency Film Group offers many training programs which can assist organizations in that training.

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Hazmat Truck Accident: Fire, Evacuation, and I-95 Shutdown

1A 16-mile stretch of I-95 in Johnson County, North Carolina was shut down after three major crashes occurred with hours and miles of each other. One of the crashes also caused the evacuation of everyone within a three-mile radius of the crash area.

On October 20th, at approximately, 1 p.m., a tractor-trailer ran off the road and struck a tree line.  The crash pinned the driver inside the cab of the truck and emergency responders had to cut the cab to remove him. This crash caused onlookers to slow down and see what was happening.

Because of that slowdown, traffic began backing up and a half an hour later, just five miles down the road, an RV slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer, which was carrying hazardous material. There was an explosion and both vehicles burst into flames.

According to official reports, the tractor-trailer was transporting:

  • Trichloroisocyanuric acid, dry;
  • Calcium hypochlorite, hydrated;
  • Oxidizing solid, n.o.s.; and
  • Corrosive solid, acidic, inorganic, n.o.s.

The chemical fire caused thick, billowing smoke to flow from the crash and could be seen for miles. Because of the potential dangers of the toxic fire, everyone within a three-mile radius of the crash was ordered to shelter in place. Drivers who were stuck on the highway were told to leave their vehicles and evacuate. Several schools were set up as evacuation centers.

Some people exposed to the toxic brown smoke were taken to area hospitals for treatment and evaluation. Victims described symptoms of feeling as if their throats were closing and of feeling nauseous. Heat from the flames of the burning fire was so strong that it burned holes into the road surface.

2Shortly after that crash, and again just miles away, a tractor-trailer crashed into the back of an RV, causing the RV to lose control. It was then hit by a second tractor-trailer. That truck also rear-ended another vehicle, causing the vehicle to smash into the back of a third tractor-trailer.

Two people in the RV were killed instantly and a third was listed in serious condition. An occupant in one of the trucks was also seriously injured in the crash.

With millions of tractor-trailers hauling hazardous materials on our nation’s roads, it is inevitable that there will be crashes which involve spillage, leakage, and other dangers associated with these toxic chemicals. It is crucial for communities to be prepared for these events in order to reduce the number of casualties. Emergency Film Group offers many programs which can assist in that training, including Protective Actions: Evacuation/Shelter in Place, Incident Command System (ICS) for Industry Series, and Hazmat/WMD Awareness.

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Public Warned about Dangerous Meth Trash Exposure

methThere has been a lot of media focus on the deadly heroin epidemic this country is facing. And rightly so. However, all that attention has overshadowed another deadly drug: methamphetamine.

Not only is methamphetamine dangerous to the people who use it, it can also be dangerous – even fatal – to innocent people who have no idea they are being exposed to the drug's deadly ingredients, and law enforcement across the country are issuing warnings for people to be aware.

Meth cookers produce an abnormally large amount of waste in their efforts to produce the drug. This trash often contains chemicals that are toxic. The chemicals are acidic, corrosive, and flammable and direct contact with skin can cause serious burns. The combination of these chemicals can often lead to fires or explosions.

This trash is often just thrown anywhere –  in the woods, side of roads or streets and highways. Especially at risk are people who spend a lot of time in the woods, such as hikers and hunters, or those who participate in Adopt-a-Highway programs and go around cleaning up trash that people discard – they may be handling meth trash and have no idea the danger it poses.

Some of the most popular containers used by meth cookers include gas cans and plastic soda bottles. Batteries which have been torn apart, coffee filters with colored stains on them, empty blister packs, rubber or plastic hoses, and Ziploc bags are all items that are used to produce the drug and may have hazardous chemical residue left on them.

It is also common behavior for meth producers to either hide or discard backpacks or bags in odd locations. The toxic chemicals are often stored in these bags. Even just sniffing what is inside these bags can cause severe injuries.

Emergency response to any location where there could be dangerous chemicals puts all emergency personnel at risk. Emergency Film Group offers many programs which can assist in that training, including Response to Illicit Drug Labs, Hazmat/WMD Awareness, and the Hazardous Materials: Managing the Incident Series.

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New Explosion Danger: Takata Airbag Component Transportation

crashA recent truck crash in Quemado, Texas has raised serious questions regarding the dangerous Takata airbag issue. According to media reports, a tractor trailer which was carrying used airbag components failed to negotiate a curve and crashed. The truck exploded and immediately became engulfed in flames. These flames spread to a nearby home, killing a 67-year-old woman who was inside the home. The truck driver and a passenger escaped the truck before the explosion.

Witnesses say the explosion was large enough to cause damage to homes and spread parts of the truck and rubble almost a mile away from the crash site.

The used airbag components were removed from vehicles involved in the massive Takata airbag recall. The number of vehicles involved in the recall continues to grow, which more than 100 million vehicles currently affected.

Prior to 2000, Takata used the chemical tetrazole for their airbag components but found that the cost of the chemical was high. The company replaced the tetrazole with ammonium nitrate, which was substantially cheaper to use, despite repeated warnings from their own engineers how dangerous this volatile chemical is.

Tragically, those warnings became a reality, with at least 10 people dead and hundreds of more victims injured from incidents involving the defective airbags. The ammonium nitrate causes the bags to explode with such force, the protective casings collapse and shards of shrapnel spray out of the bag in into the vehicle. Another dangerous issue has been the high risk of explosion that ammonium nitrate has when it is exposed to hot or human weather for long periods of time.

Now there is concern regarding just what precautions Takata is taking when it comes to transporting the airbag components that have been removed and just what kind of danger this presents on the roads, not only to motorists but also to emergency responders who arrive on the scene of an accident.

Emergency Film Group offers several programs which can assist in providing OSHA Awareness training for personnel who might be first on the scene of an emergency involving hazardous materials, including our Hazmat/WMD Awareness program.

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Federal Crackdown on Hazmat Rail Shippers

saskatchewan_trainEarlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a report recommending a more aggressive enforcement of government regulations regarding rail shipment of hazardous materials. In the report, U.S. FRA’s Oversight of Hazardous Materials Shipments Lacks Comprehensive Risk Evaluation and Focus on Deterrence, the DOT was critical of the way the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) handled its enforcement efforts.

According to the report, the FRA rarely pursues civil penalties against companies who violate hazardous materials regulations. In fact, only 4 percent of violations actually resulted in any penalties. The average penalties, according to the report, settled for much less than what the agency could have imposed, approximately five cents on the dollar

The agency also rarely refers cases for further criminal investigations. In 2015, of the 1,670 hazmat violations issued by the FRA, (including 883 non-railroad hazmat transportation companies), zero violations were referred to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for prosecution. According to the report, at least 20 percent of the violations “warranted a criminal investigation” by the DOJ.

The FRA agreed with the report’s assessment and has now adopted recommendations made in the report on issues such as making it easier for FRA attorneys and inspectors to initiate criminal investigations, as well as increasing the number of fines issued and the amount of those fines.

Under the new regulations, any individual who recklessly or willfully violate federal hazardous materials regulations will now face penalties of up to 10 years in prison and/or $175,000 in fines.

Companies can also be held criminally and financially responsible for violations committed by employees. It is recommended that all employers implement a comprehensive hazmat training and compliance program, as well as have a crisis management plan in place.

Emergency Film Group offers several programs which can assist in that training, as well as training for emergency responders who may deal with unplanned hazardous materials leaks, spills or fire during the course of their work, including our Hazardous Materials: Managing the Incident Series.

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Trains Keep a Rolling. . .

crude oilOver the past several years, the amount of crude oil that has been transported by rail out of the Bakken region in the Midwest has skyrocketed. Each train carries more than 3 million gallons of oil, among 110 loaded cars, traveling across the United States. Each month, there are over 400 trains transporting this highly flammable crude.

After a string of train accidents – including the tragic Lac Megantic, Quebec incident which killed 47 people and destroyed the town - the U.S. Department of Transportation declared Bakken crude oil to be extremely more volatile than originally thought.

Bakken crude is lighter than traditional heavy crudes, making it prone to ignite at lower temperatures. Lighter crudes contain more natural gas, giving it a much lower flash point – the temperature at which vapors given off by the oil can ignite.

The causes of these train accidents have included human error, equipment failure, and railroad track problems. Although there were new railroad safety standards adopted by railroads in 2011, federal regulators have failed to mandate those standards. Instead, the number of oil train crashes continues to increase.

There have been 14 documented incidents in the past three years, with the latest crash occurring just this past June in Oregon.

Recently, the Canadian government announced it was accelerating the phasing out the type of rail cars that were transporting the crude oil in the Lac Megantic tragedy. The DOT-111 tank cars will no longer be used as of October 31, 2016. These cars do not have a thermal layer inside of them. The U.S., however, will not be ending the use of these cars until 2018, continuing to put communities across the country at high risk.

The Bakken crude oil boom shows no signs of slowing down. Instead, there are plans to build more oil terminals, which means more crude being transported. Emergency Film Group’s Crude Oil Spill Response Package provides comprehensive training for emergency personnel to effectively respond to these dangerous incidents.



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W. Va. Chlorine Gas Leak Leads to Mass Evacuation

gas leakA chlorine leak in a rail tanker car at a West Virginia chemical plant caused the evacuation of several nearby communities, as well as closed down two highways that run across the Ohio River. Traffic on the river was also restricted.

The incident occurred at an Axiall Corp. subsidiary (Eagle Natrium) located in Natrium that manufactures chlorine and caustic soda. A spokesperson from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said the chlorine was in liquid form while stored in the railcar, but turned into a gas upon its release. It is unknown at this time just how much of the chlorine was released, but the same EPA official said the car could have contained “approximately 30,000 gallons” of the toxic chemical.

Axiall reported that at least seven people were treated for exposure, all employees of the plant. Five workers were treated at an on-site medical facility and two others were transported to a nearby hospital. Those two employees were treated and have been released.

There was concern by officials that the leak was spreading throughout a 26-mile radius. The northern section of New Martinsville, W.Va., as well as several Ohio towns – Hannibal, Kent, and Proctor – were evacuated. Both Highway 2 in W.Va. and Highway 7 in Ohio were closed. All industrial plants in the area were also advised to have employees shelter in place.

Exposure to chlorine – even small amounts – can cause serious to severe injuries. Small exposure can burn the eyes, skin, and throat. Coughing or choking can also develop. If a person inhales a large amount of the gas, the lining of the lungs can become inflamed and airways get constricted. High levels of exposure are lethal.

Axiall Corp. has a history of life-threatening incidents at the Natrium plant and other locations the company owns. In December of last year, a tank on an industrial boiler at the plant released steam and ash into the air, injuring 11 employees.

In September 2014, one employee was killed and three other workers seriously injured while replacing a valve in a process line used to transport caustic solution from storage tanks to a loading rack. During the replacement process, all four were sprayed with the caustic solution.

In 2013, in what the company itself said was a “near-catastrophic blowout” at a Louisiana chemical plant, an explosion and fire occurred during a natural gas drilling operation at the location. Almost 3,000 people have sued the company blaming the blast for causing personal injuries and/or property damage.

There have been numerous chlorine leak incidents around the country. One government study cited chlorine releases as the number one cause of victim injuries and evacuations over every other substance. Emergency personnel responding to these events need to know all the dangers involved in a chlorine leak accident. Emergency Film Group’s Chlorine safety training program describes the hazards of chlorine as well as safe work practices and safe response to incidents where chlorine is involved.



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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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