AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week Is June 20-26

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 30, 2021: Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week focuses on physical and mental health with a “Rebuild-Rehab” theme; radiation detecting devices were upgraded to improve efficiency at border crossings and ports; Washington State launches its ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system on Tuesday; new communities are on evacuation standby for the Flag Fire in Arizona; another underground tank appears to be leaking at the Hanford Nuclear Site; studies reveal risks to unhardened homes from wildfires amid ongoing severe drought conditions; at least 44 people are dead, including children, after a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel; and an Elevated Fire Risk continues through Saturday for Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

1. Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week is scheduled for June 20-26, and this year’s theme is Rebuild-Rehab. The focus this year is on firefighter wellness — both physical and mental — and encourages a week of safety training addressing these topics. Both physical and psychological rehab are needed after firefighting incidents to ensure firefighters’ physiological and mental health, and resources to conduct training can be found on the Safety Stand Down website.

2. A technical upgrade to radiation detecting devices by the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office means improved efficiency, utility and maintainability for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. The Radiation Portal monitors (RPMs) are non-invasive pass-through portals that can detect radiological or nuclear materials. The RPMs are primarily used at land borders, while mobile RPMs (mRPMs) are truck-mounted and used to detect radiation in shipping containers and cargo at ports across the United States.

3. ShakeAlert launches in Washington State on May 4, providing residents with a precious and possible life-saving few seconds of warning before the shaking from an earthquake begins. Washington’s Emergency Management Division noted that the alert system would be launched even though only 65% of the seismic sensor network has been completed across the state. The network has a final completion date of 2025.

4. Light rain and some snow on Thursday in the area of the Flag Fire in Arizona helped lessen fire conditions; however, the fire remains at near zero containment. Although there has been little growth in the fire, hot and dry conditions are expected to return with triple-digit temperatures this week. Mohave County noted that new communities are at set status for evacuations due to the anticipated potential growth of the fire.

5. The Hanford Nuclear Site is a decommissioned plant in Washington State that was used to make plutonium for atomic weapons. Another underground tank that is 75 years old was discovered to have begun leaking about a year ago. Officials determined that approximately 3.5 gallons of nuclear waste are seeping into the ground each day from the tank. The site has leaked an estimated 200,000 gallons of hazardous chemicals and nuclear waste into the ground and area water supplies, including the Columbia River. An assessment led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently underway to determine necessary remediations for affected habitat and area species, along with impacts to the public.

6. As persistent drought conditions continue across much of the West, studies reveal risks to homes in each state from wildfires. While Arizona ranked 10th, Montana scored the number one spot for highest number of homes at risk from wildfires. However, nearly 95% of Arizona is experiencing severe drought, one of the highest rates in the country. If the conditions persist, more homes could be at risk from potential wildfires, so officials are asking residents to take steps now to fireproof their homes.

7. Authorities in Israel stated that at least 44 people — including children — were killed and 150 were injured when a stampede broke out during a Lag BaOmer festival. The religious festival was held at Mount Meron in the northern region of Israel and included a crowd of nearly 100,000 people. The crush incident occurred after some attendees tripped on steps and fell, taking others with them, including the children.

8. An Elevated Fire Risk continues through Saturday in parts of Southern California. The National Weather Service noted that high temperatures away from the coast, along with low relative humidity levels of between 8-10% were likely in valleys and mountains. Gusty winds of up to 35 mph were also forecast for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, including mountains and valleys, with Friday being the biggest threat due to heat.

  

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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