AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Briefing: Struck-at-Scene Second Most Common Cause of Deaths

Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 7, 2022: Reactor Unit 2 remains shut down at the Oconee Nuclear Station after an unusual event; power outages continue to plague the Memphis area and prompted a county-wide school closure; a bridge in Pittsburgh was closed after an employee noticed it had shifted; a webinar addressing first responder stress and its impact on mental health is coming up in February; high winds continue to impact Southern California this week; the Coast Guard rescued 18 people off an ice floe near Catawba Island; an unknown number of people were impacted by a data breach at a Washington State agency; and newly released data by the DOT shows being struck at the scene is the second most common cause of deaths among police officers and firefighters.

1. Emergency services responded to the Oconee Nuclear Station in Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday. The nuclear plant declared an unusual event, the lowest of four nuclear emergencies, for its Unit 2 reactor after smoke set off alarms. Reportedly, paint melted off a steam pipe, creating smoke that triggered the alarms. However, there was no threat to public safety.

2. The winter storm that spanned 2,000 miles at its peak late last week left the Memphis, Tennessee, area with icy conditions, along with downed trees and power lines. Tennessee suffered the brunt of the power outages when Winter Storm Landon swept through the region, followed by freezing temperatures. Power outages still persist, which forced all schools in the Memphis-Shelby County school district to cancel classes on Monday. Memphis Light, Gas and Water noted that power should be restored to all of its customers by Thursday.

3. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Port Authority employee noticed an expanded joint on a bridge early Friday morning. The Saw Mill Run Boulevard Bridge – used only by buses and light rail – was immediately closed and engineers were dispatched to inspect the bridge. Although the bridge was determined to be stable, repairs are needed prior to its reopening for use.

4. The mental health of first responders is critical to ensuring their ability to perform assigned duties. A webinar that focuses on sources of stress and its impact on first responders is being hosted by the International Public Safety Association (IPSA). The webinar, First Responder Stress and Metabolic Dysfunction, is scheduled for February 23 from 12 to 1 p.m. ET. It will explore the significant stressors that impact first responders and how they directly impact the metabolic system, breaking down the very system needed by the body to combat stress.

5. Santa Ana winds that swept across Southern California over the weekend are expected to peak on Monday afternoon. Eastern Ventura County and northern San Fernando Valley will see the strongest winds on Monday with gusts of up to 55 mph. The cold winds are drying out the region, and a rise in temperatures as a high pressure builds will bring back the windy conditions Tuesday through Thursday, potentially leading to red flag warnings.

6. Eighteen people were rescued by the Coast Guard off an ice floe in Lake Erie near Catawba Island over the weekend. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew spotted the stranded group in the early afternoon on Sunday, as they were looking for a route back to land with several all-terrain vehicles. Hoisting operations, along with air boats, including one from a good Samaritan, were used to rescue the stranded individuals. This is the second ice floe rescue near Catawba Island in the past week.

7. Social Security numbers, birthdates and drivers’ licenses may be among the personally identifying information that was likely stolen in a data breach at a Washington State agency. The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) reported that it detected irregular activity at the end of January on one of its online systems that housed the personal data of professional licensees. The system was later shut down. It is unclear at this time how much, if any, of the data was compromised or stolen or how many people were impacted by the data breach.

8. According to new data released by the Department of Transportation (DOT), being struck at the scene of an incident is the second most common cause of deaths among both police officers and firefighters. To help combat this issue, the Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI) focuses on improving the safety of first responders at incidents on the nation’s highways. A new platform launched by ERSI,, collects detailed information directly from first responders regarding highway incidents, at which either emergency personnel or their equipment were struck as they operated or assisted at the scene.

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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