AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: POINTER Technology Field Trials Successful

Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 31, 2022: The bridge that collapsed in Pittsburgh was not on the list for infrastructure repairs; 14 people were hospitalized for carbon monoxide exposure at a hotel in Ohio; the Navy’s plan to treat contaminated water from the Red Hill underground well in Hawaii has been approved; New England continues to dig out from a weekend nor’easter that produced blizzard conditions in eight states; a false tsunami siren warning is being blamed on a technical malfunction; growing research points to the increased dangers to firefighters over flame-retardant chemicals; a new name for the Lō’ihi Seamount provides a more accurate description of the submarine volcano; and successful POINTER field trials are depicted in recently released San Diego Fire and Rescue testimonial videos.

1. A bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was not on the list of bridges for infrastructure funding. The bridge spanned a ravine near Frick Park, and its collapse sent three people to the hospital and left 10 people injured. According to reports, the bridge only received a structural rating grade of four by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for its deck and superstructure, with the substructure being rated as a six.

2. Fourteen people were hospitalized in Ohio after being overcome with carbon monoxide in a hotel’s pool area. The incident occurred in Marysville, when emergency services received a call that several people were unconscious at the Hampton Inn. The Marysville Fire Department evacuated the hotel, and an investigation into the incident is underway.

3. The Navy’s plan to remove treated water from a well that was closed in Oahu due to its tainting with petroleum has been approved. The Hawaii Department of Health approved the plan to remove the nearly five million gallons of tainted water from the Red Hill well to prevent it from migrating to other areas of the underground aquifer. The Navy will remove, treat, filter and then release the treated water into the Halawa Stream.

4. As a nor’easter storm slammed into New England on Saturday, peak wind gusts were anywhere from 42-81 mph as recorded by the National Weather Service (NWS). Saturday’s blizzard left over 100,000 residents without power across the region and flooded the island of Nantucket. Snow fell from Virginia to Maine, with Massachusetts bearing the brunt of the storm. Some areas received more than 30 inches of snow.

5. Hawaii County residents heard tsunami warning sirens Saturday evening in what officials are saying was a false alarm. According to reports, the warning sirens began sounding at around 8:45 p.m. local time, alerting residents in Hilo of an impending tsunami. Hawaii State Emergency Management and the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency noted that the false alarm was triggered by a technical malfunction and an investigation into the issue is underway.

6. Research into the effects of flame-retardant chemicals on the body is pointing to its bioaccumulation in humans. States are now beginning to ban the use of these chemicals to better protect firefighters and the public. Firefighters and children are at highest risk for these chemicals, which can cause serious health problems including cancer, development disabilities, and reproductive issues. Flame-retardant chemicals consist of halogenated, organophosphorous, organonitrogen and nanoscale classifications. When these chemicals burn, they release highly toxic chemicals that firefighters consistently encounter in the line of duty.

7. In July of 2021, the Hawaii Board of Geographic Names unanimously approved a name change for the Lō’ihi Seamount to Kama’ehuakanaloa. The Lō’ihi Seamount was thought to be a part of Kilauea, a sort of parasitic volcano, when in fact it is its own volcano. The new name better reflects its description as an underwater volcano, whose most recent activity was in 1996. Earthquakes associated with this volcano have been felt as recently as December of 2021.

8. Testimonial videos on the new POINTER technology were released in December of 2021. The testimonials by San Diego Fire and Rescue note the successful field testing of POINTER, as well as its vitalness to firefighter operations and responder safety. POINTER is a location tracking technology that can help locate firefighters or first responders should they become injured or unresponsive during an incident.

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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