Educational and fun preparedness links and resources for families & kids

March 15, 2020

With scenes of empty store shelves, fights over toilet paper and most Americans being told to stay home due to the COVID-19 outbreaks, many of us will have a lot of time on our hands in the coming days and weeks.

And, since internet access is not a problem for most (as it often is whenever there is a weather-related disaster or emergency), there are things people can do to learn more about getting themselves and their loved ones prepared for the unexpected (including a zombie apocalypse!)

The U.S. has approximately 800,000 active Law Enforcement Officials (including Police & Sheriff), 1.1 million Firefighters (over 70% are volunteers), and 210,000 EMT / paramedics meaning there are about 2.1 million first responders supporting over 327 million Americans.

And with some quarantines impacting health and public safety personnel in communities around the country (and world), you, your family and neighbors could be the “first” first responders if an emergency or disaster strikes.

Knowledge is power and can help reduce fear and anxiety. Consider taking the below online CERT course and visit some of the kid-friendly sites near the bottom to educate your family and have some fun while doing it.

Community Emergency Response Team

In the U.S. and Canada, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program helps train volunteers to assist first responders in emergency situations in their communities.

CERT members give critical support to first responders during emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.

Normally the CERT course is taught in the community by a trained team of first responders who have completed a CERT Train-the-Trainer course, and includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations, and light search and rescue operations and is usually delivered in 2-1/2 hour sessions, one evening a week over a 7 week period.

FEMA also provides an online study course called “Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams“, IS 317, for those wanting to complete training or as a refresher for current team members.

The online course takes between 6 and 8 hours to complete and includes 6 modules…

  • CERT Basics,
  • Fire Safety,
  • Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents,
  • Disaster Medical Operations,
  • Search and Rescue,
  • and Course Summary.

While IS-317 is useful as a primer or refresher for CERT training, it is not equivalent to, and cannot be used in place of, the classroom delivery of the CERT Basic Training.

But it is educational and easy to do from your home or office and is a great teaching tool for your entire family. Learn more at FEMA.gov

Also, if you have high school and/or college kids in your family, Teen CERT can give them the above mentioned skills to protect themselves, their family, and friends in case of disaster or emergency. Learn more at www.ready.gov/teen-cert and share above FEMA course link with them too.

Educational and fun preparedness resources for families & kids:

Free ebook (59-pg portion of our preparedness & first aid manual with tips + resources about floods, hurricanes, infectious diseases (e.g. flu, COVID-19, staph, etc.), wildfires, family plans, kits + more) www.fedhealth.net/look-inside-book.html

Ready Kids www.ready.gov/kids

Ready.gov (resources for families, kids, businesses + pets) www.ready.gov

CDC’s Ready Wrigley www.cdc.gov/cpr/readywrigley

CDC (tips for families, college students & kids) www.cdc.gov/family/healthypeople/  

CDC’s Zombie preparedness www.cdc.gov/cpr/zombie/

Sesame Street (Let’s Get Ready) www.sesamestreet.org/toolkits/ready


Medical Reserve Corps volunteers strengthen America’s public health

March 2, 2020

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities.

The MRC network currently comprises over 180,000 volunteers in 830+ units located throughout the United States and its territories.

MRC units are community-based and function as a way to locally organize and utilize medical and non-medical volunteers who want to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to emergencies and promote healthy living throughout the year. MRC volunteers supplement existing emergency and public health resources.

About the Medical Reserve Corps

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many Americans asked, “What can I do to help?” Public health professionals were among those who wanted to volunteer their services, but many were not able to find a way to do so. While these professionals had applicable skills sets, they could not be deployed. This was because they were not identified, credentialed or trained in advance. So, the Medical Reserve Corps was created to build a group of people who can assist existing local public health in the event of a true public health emergency or disaster.

MRC was originally a partner program with Citizen Corps and resided under HHS’ Office of the Surgeon General. In 2015 the MRC was welcomed into HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Office of Emergency Management family. MRC also works closely with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to enhance MRC units’ ability to meet local, state, and national needs through collaboration, coordination, and capacity-building activities.

MRC units engage volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency response capabilities, and build community resiliency. They prepare for and respond to natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, and floods, as well as other emergencies affecting public health, such as disease outbreaks. They frequently contribute to community health activities that promote healthy habits.

Volunteers include medical and public health professionals such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, and epidemiologists. Many community members with non-medical backgrounds—interpreters, chaplains, office workers, legal advisors, and others—can fill other key support positions.

Credit: MDRMRC

Some examples of activities that MRC volunteers participate in and support include:

  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Trainings
  • Mass Dispensing Efforts
  • Emergency Sheltering
  • Vaccination Clinics
  • Responder Rehab
  • Health Education and Promotion
  • Disaster Medical Support
  • Outreach to Underserved Community Members
  • Medical Facility Surge Capacity
  • First Aid During Large Public Gatherings
  • Engaging Youth in Public Health Activities
  • Planning, Logistical & Administrative Support
  • Health Screenings
  • Veterinary Support and Pet Preparedness
  • and more!

To volunteer or partner with your local Medical Reserve Corps, visit their Find MRC Units page to locate the unit nearest you and reach out to the unit coordinator and visit https://mrc.hhs.gov to learn more about this great organization.

MRC Network Well Check Webinars

MRC Network Well Check interactive webinars provide MRC unit leaders and State Coordinators with information on a wide variety of topics, largely determined by members’ interests and needs. Through these ongoing wellness check-ups of the MRC network, members will be provided a platform to connect, share, and learn with your peers and leadership, plus some members will also be asked to serve as presenters.

Webinars are typically held on the first Tuesday of each month at 2p ET and run about 60 minutes long primarily focusing on a specified topic. Many include a Q & A period and highlights from the field, as well. Visit https://mrc.hhs.gov/pageviewfldr/WellCheckCalls to find upcoming and archived webinars.

Many MRC units use customized It’s A Disaster books

Since Medical Reserve Corps’ creation in 2002 many Health Departments and MRCs (+ EMs, CERTs, etc.) have purchased our 266-page preparedness and first aid manuals customized both in the print process and using standard red books with stickers for volunteers, events and local communities.

Our IT’S A DISASTER! bulk price is only $4.50 U.S. each delivered (70% off list on 10 or more copies) … and we can customize them for free to include data about your MRC unit, how to become a volunteer, public health information and more. And our book qualifies as community education on most grants providing about a $4-to-$1 return that can be used on matching grant programs.

Download a free 59-page portion of our book in PDF and learn how to order paperbacks (or ebooks) at www.fedhealth.net or call 520.907.2153.


Florence updates and state + federal preparedness resources on USFRA

September 14, 2018

For the past week we have been posting updates and resources about Florence in the U.S. First Responders Association’s Disaster Preparedness Group for those being impacted by the storm along the east coast and inland. (And our apologies for not sharing this here sooner!)

Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, NC at 0715 ET on 14-Sep-2018 and moving W about 6 mph (9 km/h). A west to WSW motion expected thru Sat bringing LOTS of rain, winds + a few possible tornadoes.

Download a free 59-pg portion of IT’S A DISASTER! book (in PDF) with tips on preparing for hurricanes, floods, evacuations, assembling disaster kits, making a family plan & more courtesy of USFRA and Fedhealth.

And visit USFRA.org’s Florence Updates and resources post to find information and links about…

  • Latest updates from National Hurricane Center and others;
  • USFRA posts about hurricanes, floods, evacuations, winds, generator safety, and more;
  • State web links, apps and resources for NC, SC, GA and VA (more will be added as storm moves inland);
  • Pets and Large animals/livestock tips;
  • FEMA, National Hurricane Center & Weather resources;
  • Disaster Assistance and Recovery efforts will be added in coming days/weeks/months as things progress.

Families, business owners, responders and volunteers can find above and more about Florence here.

And consider joining USFRA.org to find & share knowledge and expertise on training, tactics, safety, education and community outreach as it pertains to first responders, EMs, active duty military, veterans, volunteers and others.

Stay safe out there, j & B


Please help us equip First Responders with pet oxygen masks and protective K9 gear

May 13, 2018

We wanted to share an event and fundraiser that will help equip first responders with pet oxygen masks, K9 Rex Specs and K-9 vests in case you might like to attend or want to donate or share with others.

In addition to being co-founder of Fedhealth and co-author (with Bill) of our customizable preparedness book, I am also Exec VP of the U.S. First Responders Association.

On May  26, 2018 The Starlight Singers and performers from Sara Dance Center will honor first responders and entertain the public at their Memorial Day Weekend First Responder Benefit in Sarasota Florida.

All donations and proceeds from ticket and concession sales will be donated to USFRA who will purchase and donate pet oxygen masks and K-9 gear to Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement departments.

Also learn more about The Starlight Singers 5/26 event here (which is free for first responders) or on USFRA’s Facebook post … and leave us a comment or email evp@usfra.org with any questions or needs.

Thank you! j ( & B )


FirstNet: Nationwide secure broadband network + communication tools for first responders

February 10, 2018

We’ve been writing about the progress of FirstNet in our enews since Mar 2014 (and Oct 2014 and Mar 2015). And now that AT&T is the official provider of services for FirstNet, the dedicated communications platform created with first responders for first responders is helping to enable simpler, safer, faster and more collaborative communications.

FirstNet will give the public safety community the 21st-century communication tools it needs to help save lives and keep communities and first responders safe.

As of late-December 2017, all 50 states, 5 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia officially Opted-In to FirstNet, so now FirstNet and AT&T have a clear line of sight to deliver a nationwide platform and communications tools being built for public safety officials.

The foundation of the FirstNet service is a highly reliable highly secure broadband network dedicated to public safety. This is the first time public safety communications will be based on global standards like Global System for Mobile Communications, realize the benefits of economies of scale, and see rapid evolution of advanced communication capabilities, on a network designed for public safety users.

Why is the FirstNet network a necessary and relevant undertaking?

Whether they’re responding to a local emergency or supporting a disaster in another city or state, public safety deserves a network that will be there for them whenever and wherever they need it. This unifying network will allow first responders and other public safety personnel to communicate across different agencies and jurisdictions throughout the country. Given current difficulties in doing this, the FirstNet network will allow public safety entities to better coordinate when jointly responding to human-caused and natural disasters.

Who can subscribe to FirstNet?

Subscribers can include primary user and extended primary users:

  • Primary users are public safety personnel whose primary mission and job is to provide services to the public in the areas of law enforcement, fire suppression and prevention, or emergency medical services.
  • Extended primary users are other entities that provide public safety services, and include individuals, agencies, organizations, non-profit or for-profit companies who are not primary users, but who may be called upon to support public safety personnel with the mitigation, remediation, overhaul, clean-up, restoration, or other such services that are required during the time of incident or post-incident. Extended primary users may be called on a temporary or on-going basis.

How does FirstNet compare to what’s currently available to public safety?

Today:

  • Networks get congested in disasters and emergencies, making it difficult for first responders and other public safety personnel to communicate, coordinate and do their jobs.
  • The public safety community uses more than 10,000 radio networks – which creates difficulty when trying to communicate across agencies or jurisdictions.

With the FirstNet network:

  • First responders and other public safety personnel will access one highly secure, nationwide, interoperable communications network that will support voice, data, text and video communications.
  • Public safety will have dedicated access to this network in times of crisis– their communications needs will come before non-public safety users.
  • FirstNet will also deliver specialized features to further the public safety mission, including priority, preemption and more network capacity; a resilient, hardened connection; and an applications ecosystem with innovative applications and services.
  • Devices connected to the network – such as wearables, drones and vehicles – will relay near real-time information to improve situational awareness and, ultimately, help save lives both of public safety responders on the front lines and the communities they protect. Mike Zeto, general manager of AT&T Smart Cities, sees a unique opportunity to bridge public safety’s capabilities with the Internet of Things (IoT) ~ read more on USFRA.org.

What types of devices will work on FirstNet?

Public safety users have access to an expansive catalog of LTE devices, ranging from purpose-built rugged units to the world’s most popular smart devices and tablets, complemented with a wide range of accessories. FirstNet enables public safety customers to get the priority, coverage, and interoperability they need without sacrificing choice in the devices they require to get the job done. Additionally, FirstNet will establish Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) capabilities to support volunteers and other personnel who use their personal devices for their public safety work if they meet the applicable requirements.

FirstNet rate plans support a wide variety of smartphones, tablets, laptops, modems, and network-ready devices using Android®, Apple® iOS, BlackBerry®, and Windows® Phones.

As of 22-Jan-2018 Mike Poth, First Responder Network Authority CEO announced AT&T launched a brand expressly designed for FirstNet products and services. Having a specialized brand and logo will help public safety identify the FirstNet solution and lifesaving technologies the network offers first responders across our nation.

How will this network withstand natural disasters, such as flooding or hurricanes?

The first line of defense against network impact from natural disasters is a hardened, strengthened network. AT&T builds network infrastructure to meet or exceed national standards and local wind and earthquake load requirements. They have continued to strengthen the network in hurricane-prone areas by:

  • Installing back-up and permanent generators at critical cell sites and switching facilities
  • Locating critical equipment in less vulnerable areas
  • Locating electronics critical to network operations above expected flood levels
  • Protecting physical facilities against flooding

Additionally, AT&T will provide power to the network in case commercial power is lost by adding more generators for use immediately after a storm hits. They will also place switches and generators critical to network operations in upper floors of buildings in case of flooding. AT&T has already elevated key distribution facilities in many low-lying areas and upgraded electronics in many locations, replacing copper wiring with fiber optic cable.

Learn about FirstNet network and services, rate plans, solutions, devices and apps, events and more at www.FirstNet.com.

And visit www.FirstNet.gov to learn about FirstNet’s programs and activities, including its consultation and outreach with public safety, the State Plans process, and how the Board plans to ensure the FirstNet network meets the needs of public safety – every day and in every emergency.

You can also find updates and an RSS feed in the U.S. First Responders Association’s FirstNet group

 

Source: Fedhealth 1Q2018 enews


Drug Safety for First Responders (new USFRA group shares safety data about carfentanil, fentanyl, etc)

May 7, 2017

by Janet Liebsch – USFRA Executive VP and Fedhealth VP

In 2016 the U.S. First Responders Association shared a few safety posts and warnings to members and the public about carfentanil and fentanyl, however we recently shared a photo (seen here) with a warning to responders about carfentanil on a USFRA facebook post and it reached over 4 million people in less than a week!

Thousands of replies on the post were all over the map, and unfortunately many commenters went off topic since it was a public post with over 33,000+ shares, so people (a vast majority were not first responders) were arguing and debating overdoses, the war on drugs, rehab and more. There were also some great questions and posts from professionals in the field.

The main point of the post is warning medics, police and firefighters if they find drugs on a patient to be extremely careful when handling them since carfentanil recently landed 2 first responders in the hospital from inhaling dust while closing a ziploc bag a patient had. And the vials compare the potential lethal amounts of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.

Responders have been dealing with fentanyl for years, and carfentanil–a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals–started appearing in OD cases last summer. But carfentanil is really spreading across the country now since it is being cut into street drugs and/or sold as heroin creating a deadly nightmare for public safety, first responder, medical, treatment, and laboratory personnel.

For those not familiar with carfentanil, it is a synthetic opioid that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times more potent than heroin.

The lethal dose range for carfentanil in humans is unknown; however, since it is approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl, it could be lethal at the 200-microgram to 2-milligram range, depending on route of administration and other factors. Some U.S. and Canadian officials even say just 20 micrograms of carfentanil could be lethal.

With overdose cases increasing exponentially and so many questions and concerns from responders to our 4/30 post, USFRA setup a new group called “Drug Safety for First Responders” where we are sharing information and safety data about fentanyl, carfentanil and other drugs ~ especially as it relates to scene and personal safety.

Many fentanyl-related compounds are lethal and could be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Law enforcement, Fire/EMS, health professionals and volunteers on-scene and at receiving facilities (e.g. hospitals, jails, etc.) should learn about these dangers and carefully follow safety protocols to avoid accidental exposure.

Some examples of articles posted the first week include:

DEA warnings to first responders about carfentanil and fentanyl (Post includes information from DEA’s official alert from late 2016 about the lethal dangers of these synthetic opioids plus has some on-scene safety tips for responding personnel)

K9s teams be on alert for fentanyl and carfentanil during searches (Article discusses how K-9 teams must be vigilant anytime they arrive on scene of a drug related and/or overdose call (and even when searching suspects) ~ esp. since deadly synthetic opioids are being cut into heroin, cocaine, etc. Drug dogs could be exposed to fentanyl and carfentanil by inhalation or absorbed through their paw pads. Agencies are starting to carry Narcan to treat a suffering K-9 before symptoms get out of control.)

“Gray death” combo drug includes heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and U-47700 … and Columbus first responders prepare for new drug called Gray Death (These 2 posts discuss a new and dangerous drug combination called “gray death” found so far in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. It’s a combination of several opioids including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and a synthetic opioid called U-47700, it looks like concrete mix, and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder.) and

Please use this Drug Safety for First Responders group (and other USFRA networks and forums) to share safety tips, protocols, articles and other discussions and experiences from the field. Members and visitors are welcome to read and share articles, events, classifieds and more on our site, and follow USFRA on Facebook and Twitter.

Bill and I encourage all responders and volunteers to join the U.S. First Responders Association at www.usfra.org and invite your friends and colleagues too.

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CDC Blast Injury mobile application (free iPhone or iPad app for first responders)

April 29, 2017

The CDC Blast Injury app supports pre-hospital and hospital healthcare providers and public health professionals in preparing for and responding to terrorist bombings and other mass casualty explosive events.

Healthcare providers and public health professionals can use the application to:

  • Quickly review critical steps to take from the moment an event happens.
  • Learn blast injury patterns and treatment considerations.
  • Scan information efficiently with minimal effort on the way to or at a scene and grasp clinical guidance to support key job functions.
  • Access medical surge capacity guidance including information on facilitating health systems emergency communication.
  • Find special populations treatment considerations (e.g., women who are pregnant, children)
  • Link to the full breadth of CDC’s resources on blast injuries and mass casualty explosive events.

The CDC Blast Injury app for iPhone or iPad is available for free on iTunes


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