AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Paramedics Four Times More Likely to Be Injured on the Job

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 13, 2019: NIOSH data reveals ambulance workers have the highest injury rate among professions; Puerto Rico gets a near-failing grade on its first infrastructure report card; Australia orders mandatory evacuations as multiple brush fires threaten lives and homes; frigid temperatures and heavy snow are part of an arctic mass that has gripped a large area of the U.S.; the CDP has announced its Tribal Training Week for 2020 and it is open for registration; Seattle Children’s shuts operating rooms after mold is discovered; health officials in Georgia have confirmed a case of the measles in a Cobb County school; and an exceptionally high tide has flooded Venice, Italy, and caused widespread damage.

1) Data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reveals that ambulance workers in the United States are four times more likely to be injured on the job than any other profession. For every 100 paramedics, between eight and nine workers will experience an occupational injury. The leading cause of injury is repetitive duties, such as bending, kneeling, and lifting patients, while exposure to blood and bodily fluids is the second leading cause of injury.

2) On its first infrastructure report card, Puerto Rico scored an overall D minus, a near-failing grade. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimated the cost for updates and repairs at about $23 billion over 10 years, not including deferred maintenance or hurricane-related repairs. According to the report, the majority of the U.S. Commonwealth’s island infrastructure is in poor condition with significant deterioration, some of which needs immediate attention.

3) More than 150 brush fires are raging in Australia, which prompted officials to order the mandatory evacuation of residents and tourists in various locations. More than 80 fires threatened lives and homes in Queensland, including in Noosa, a popular tourist beach destination, where the highest warning level to evacuate was issued. Firefighters are struggling to contain the swift-moving fires which are burning on both the east and west coasts; at least 2.5 million acres have already been destroyed by wildfires.

4) Record-breaking cold that blasted through the Plains and the Midwest is now impacting the East Coast. The National Weather Service (NWS) is describing the system as an “arctic outbreak,” with an approximate 300 cold-weather records estimated to be broken. The frigid temperatures dipped all the way into Texas, while a massive snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow at New York’s Buffalo Airport on Tuesday.

5) The Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama, has opened registration for its Tribal Training Week 2020. The training event runs from March 28 to April 4, 2020, and consists of 15 courses in eight different training lanes. An integrated mass casualty incident with multiple events and live actors will be the culminating event at the end of the training week for five of the training lanes.

6) Eleven operating rooms at Seattle Children’s were shut down after mold was detected in multiple areas. Routine air tests conducted on November 10 revealed the presence of Aspergillus mold in two procedural areas and three operating rooms. According to reports, the hospital is also investigating two new potential Aspergillus surgical site infections.

7) The Georgia Department of Health has confirmed that a case of the measles was diagnosed in a middle-school child in Atlanta, Georgia. According to health officials, the unvaccinated child may have exposed others to the disease from October 31 to November 6. The student attends Mabry Middle School in Cobb County. Officials are in the process of notifying those who may have been exposed and are requesting that any unvaccinated students or adults stay away for at least 21 days.

8) In its second-highest level of flooding by tide water ever recorded, Venice, Italy, was inundated by high tide floodwaters that reached 74 inches on Tuesday. The tidal flooding left 85 percent of the city underwater Wednesday, including the historic squares of Venice. The floodwaters sparked at least one fire. Widespread damage from the flooding prompted city officials to declare the area a disaster zone and to seek government assistance.


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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