Friday, March 22, 2013
I have NO desire to send you emails. However, this email address is not in my database, so I cannot remove it. I have looked for “Avril” and “Cohen” and do not see anything. Do you have a maiden name? Do you have a different personal email that may forward? Do you have a work email that may forward?
Avril Cohen Mar 20 (2 days ago) to Lars:
The problem with your forwarding theory is that if a message comes via my school's server, gmail kindly indicates my alumni address as the original destination. Please see photos. I am not yet married. Perhaps you could request the assistance of your IT department?
Lars A Lambrecht 4:01 PM (9 hours ago) to me:
I spoke with our IT and he did not have any suggestion. I pasted all “Cohen” emails I have. Do you recognize any of these?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Friday, December 11, 2009
MASSACHUSETTS DELEGATION ANNOUNCES $52 MILLION IN HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING FOR MASSACHUSETTS AND THE BOSTON AREA
The Department uses a formula that includes threat risks, vulnerability, population density, and other factors to determine the level of grants to every state. The members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation and Mayor Menino have been strong advocates that the level of funds for the Boston area must be commensurate with the risk of a large port city.
Senator Kirk, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said I commend Secretary Napolitano for elevating Boston to Tier 1 for federal funding. These additional funds will enable our first responders to be fully prepared and well-equipped for any emergency. The port of Boston will be more secure, and the people of Massachusetts will be safer.
For years weve pressed with Mayor Menino to ensure that Homeland Security dollars track with the risks to a major city like Boston. Finally the policy matches reality. This designation means a bump in resources to beef up security, improve our ability to respond quickly in emergencies and increase the overall safety for people in Massachusetts,said Sen. John Kerry.
Congressman Markey said, The designation as a Tier 1 area reflects the reality that the Greater Boston region has significant security challenges. I have argued for years that we have LNG facilities and other sensitive infrastructure in Greater Boston that warrant increased funding commensurate with these challenges. This designationand the increase in funds that comes with itwill help make our communities safer. I also welcome the homeland security funds for Massachusetts from the other vital federal programs, including the Metropolitan Medical Response System, which I have championed for years and stopped the Bush Administration from eliminating. Much progress has been made to strengthen security in the Boston area, and this homeland security funding will enable more to be done to safeguard our communities.
I strongly support this decision by Secretary Napolitano,said Congressman Mike Capuano. It will allow the city of Boston to access critically important resources for the safety of Boston and Boston area residents.
As someone who lives in the City of Boston and represents the Port of Boston, I applaud Bostons elevation to a Tier 1 Urban Area and I am pleased that these additional funds will be available to give our first responders the tools they need to protect the City Of Boston,Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said. This homeland security funding will help make communities throughout Massachusetts safer places.
"Boston will be a safer and more secure place to work, live, and visit thanks to additional funding the City will receive with Tier 1 status," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "This upgrade from Homeland Security would not have happened without the strong support of Senator Kirk, Senator Kerry, the late Senator Kennedy and the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation."
The programs and allocations are below:
State Homeland Security Program
$15, 575, 715
Urban Areas Security Initiative (Boston Area)
Citizens Corps Program
Metropolitan Medical Response System
Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program (Boston Area)
Buffer Zone Protection Program
Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program
Emergency Management Performance Grants
$6, 640, 453
Driver's License Security Grant Program
$1, 046, 400
Port Security Grant Program
$ 2, 358, 154
For more information, please see <http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1260283102665.shtm>
Office of Senator Paul G. Kirk, Jr.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Australia's firefighters are apparently a bit worried about the future of emergency services, after rescuing two girls trapped in a storm drain who turned only to Facebook to ask for help.
According to southern Australia's Metropolitan Fire Service, it received a "Triple Zero" emergency call on Sunday. (That's Australia's equivalent to 911.)
The person who called said that two girls, ages 10 and 12, were trapped in a drain in Adelaide. The girls had a mobile phone with them, but opted to ask for help through their Facebook profiles, rather than dial Triple Zero.
"It is understood that friends of the girls were alerted to their predicament via a social networking website, which had been updated from a mobile telephone the girls had with them while in the drain," the MFS said in an e-mail. "It is believed the girls had been in the drain for quite some time. The sun had already set and conditions were dark."
Firefighters responded after they received the call and brought the girls to safety.
Nonetheless, firefighters weren't exactly pleased with the whole situation. Since emergency services are only available by dialing Triple Zero, the firefighters couldn't have known the girls were in the drain until someone called. The organization is even more concerned that contacting social networks, rather than dialing Triple Zero, will become a trend.
"While the MFS is pleased the situation was safely resolved, the MFS is urging all people, especially young people involved in an emergency, to always call Triple Zero for a guaranteed emergency service response," an MFS representative said in an e-mail. "Calling Triple Zero should always be the first communication people make during an emergency, as time is critical. Social networking sites rely on friends being logged on, noticing a message and taking a message seriously enough which potentially could lead to a dangerous delay."
The concern over people using social networks for help is a real one.
Last year, a father of a missing girl asked Twitter users to help him find his daughter. Meanwhile, the nonprofit Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disaster aims to help people find support during crises through social networks, like Facebook or Twitter. And the organization wants social-networking sites to become a first line of defense when humanitarian needs arise.
So it seems that emergency responders might need to deal with more social-networking usage going forward.
Are police officers and firefighters becoming an afterthought? Would you ping Facebook, Twitter, or your local emergency service first in a critical situation?
Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has written about everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Don is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and posts at The Digital Home. He is not an employee of CNET.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Care of children during disasters is focus of federal report | Louisiana Politics & Government - - Louisiana Politics | State Legislature News - NOLA.com
By Jonathan Tilove
September 20, 2009, 4:30AM
The National Commission on Children and Disasters last week approved its 90-page interim report to President Barack Obama and Congress. The report identifies several shortcomings in disaster preparedness, response and recovery and provides recommendations designed to place children uppermost in future disaster planning efforts.
The recommendations include creating a national evacuee tracking and family reunification system, providing a safe and secure mass shelter environment for children, improving the capacity for child-care services in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and ensuring that health-care professionals have adequate training in "pediatric disaster medicine.""The most vulnerable Americans in the most vulnerable settings are made even more vulnerable by government inaction," said Mark Shriver, chairman of the commission. "Disasters don't strike on government's timetable, which means the time for government to act is now."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
NENA is an organization chartered to represent both public safety and the 9‐1‐1 industry, present and future, in its mission to focus on the development, evolution, and expansion of emergency communications. NENA is the organization responsible to define NG9‐1‐1, and to coordinate the development and support of NG9‐1‐1 as a system and a service to the public, the industry, and to Public Safety entities.
In the past, this has been about 9‐1‐1 exclusively, but the future involves a more 'virtual' approach to how the public and governmental entities accomplish emergency communication through NG9‐1‐1. Text devices don't 'dial' 9‐1‐1, for example, but use a different form of identification to access the system and achieve delivery to PSAPs and other entities. However, the basic processes and service needs are the same, no matter what 'code' is used. The conceptual base of NG9‐1‐1 is international in scope, designed to support all emergency codes, such as 9‐1‐1, 1‐1‐2, 1‐1‐1, and all others among the 62 access codes (at last count) used around the world. Other communications and data exchange functions that will be considered part of an NG9‐1‐1 system won't use any such access codes, but will access ESInets as necessary to communicate seamlessly across local, State, regional, international boundaries.
NG9-1-1: Are we there yet? When a newer, IP based replacement for E9‐1‐1 meets or exceeds the capability set above, it will achieve fully featured NG9‐1‐1. Note that this is not about having all possible originating service types implemented, but that the NG9‐1‐1 capabilities defined above are present, tested (to the extent possible, which may be limited to lab testing if there are no live instances of any given capability)2, and ready for service. If a given IP‐based system is not capable of all initial NG9‐1‐1 features and functions, it can certainly be considered to be on the path to full NG9‐1‐1, but is still pre‐NG9‐1‐1 in nature. communications requires that the new system be as completely featured as the old system, and tested in advance.
Fully featured, standards based NG9‐1‐1 will likely be implemented in successive releases; but unless it's a full replacement for existing E9‐1‐1 functions2, including additional features to bring 9‐1‐1 service up to the level needed in today's emergency communications environment, it is not a true "next generation" of 9‐1‐1. True NG9‐1‐1 will include the ability to support interactive text messaging, policy‐based routing using location and several other factors, such as call type, target PSAP status, network status, and automatic acquisition of supportive data and its use within the system to control routing and other actions prior to delivery to the PSAP, and many other standards defined features and functions.
NG9-1-1: Are we there yet?
When a newer, IP based replacement for E9‐1‐1 meets or exceeds the capability set above, it will achieve fully featured NG9‐1‐1. Note that this is not about having all possible originating service types implemented, but that the NG9‐1‐1 capabilities defined above are present, tested (to the extent possible, which may be limited to lab testing if there are no live instances of any given capability)2, and ready for service. If a given IP‐based system is not capable of all initial NG9‐1‐1 features and functions, it can certainly be considered to be on the path to full NG9‐1‐1, but is still pre‐NG9‐1‐1 in nature. communications requires that the new system be as completely featured as the old system, and tested in advance.
By Deputy Chief John Fay
Glencoe, Ill., Department of Public Safety
The dispatcher is pivotal to a successful outcome and sets the tone for the entire call. The public and rescue personnel depend heavily upon their ability to decisively and calmly act amidst the chaos. Their initial size-up and deployment of personnel and equipment is vital to mitigating the incident.
The public recognizes the uniform of the first responder, but rarely thanks the first to help: the dispatcher. The dispatcher is the "ladder" of the call. He or she is not the one who climbs the ladder and receives the accolades, but is the ladder for others to respond effectively. They know that few in the public will know how important he or she really is to the successful outcome of that difficult call.
Many go into the profession to simply be of assistance. Along the way, some may take different paths, but all have made a positive difference in many people's lives. We've all been blessed to meet and work with many fine dispatchers. All rescue personnel have at one time or another relied heavily upon the calming voice of a dispatcher to help them through a tough call. If anyone has been Incident Command, you can rest assure that a dispatcher will professionally remind you, "Command do you want an additional ambulance?" realizing you forgot to request one!
These fine women and men are the first to worry about a rescue worker when he or she does not respond on the radio. What seems like an eternity — and is only a few minutes, are those moments that a communications operator is desperately awaiting the rescuer's response. Their imaginations run the gamut of all types of disastrous and are ecstatic when they hear rescuers say, "Go ahead dispatch." The rescuers can "see" and "hear" all that is going on at the scene. The dispatcher can only imagine and is not afforded immediate feedback as to the outcome of the call or severity of the situation. They must try to piece it all together.
A prime example of this took place at Katrina. I had the privilege and honor to accompany the first wave of rescue workers from the state of Illinois to travel to Katrina. We took all our supplies, fire apparatus, police vehicles, mechanics, and basic first aid provisions. We all know that communication is vital to all aspects of rescue work. We found out it would have been a tremendous asset to have taken communication operators along with the firefighters, police, and paramedics that were deployed. Terminology and equipment needs for certain types of responses caused some errors to occur. This would have been limited, if not fully avoided, if we had taken some communication operators. The rescue workers from Illinois were able to allow for the disaster stricken workers to get a break and regroup. We were unable to spell the "Kat Command" dispatchers because we did not bring any communication operators. An important lesson we learned when critiquing the response.
Commitment, consistency, and compassion are the core principles of communication operators. We all should thank them for their help! John Fay started as an emergency medical technician (EMT-B) in 1981 for the Northfield Rescue Squad. In 1983, Fay expanded to law enforcement, firefighting, and became a paramedic for the Glencoe Department of Public Safety and will be retiring as a Deputy Chief on October 16, 2009, whereupon he will be teaching and spending time with his five children. Fay has served as Deputy Chief for all three disciplines (police, firefighting, paramedic) as Glencoe Department of Public Safety is the only Department in the United States to receive accreditation in both law enforcement and fire services. An ordained a Deacon for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Fay has striven to bridge the work place and the church. Fay tells FireRescue1: "During my career, I have responded to numerous tragedies from such high profile cases such as the Laurie Dann shootings in May of 1988 and more recently sent to Katrina as part of the first wave of rescue workers from Illinois to assist. Yet, it is the numerous day-to-day exchanges of those needing help that have filled my heart over the years. I will continue teaching at the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, where I have been an adjunct instructor since 1992. In addition, I teach fire fighters, communication operators, and other rescue personnel at NIPSTA (Northern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy). I am exploring other avenues to giving back to the professions of law enforcement, fire fighting, and emergency medical services that I have a passion for and deeply respect." Being an instructor for Northwestern University allows Fay to travel about the country and listen to the many heroic feats that many fine women and men perform day in and day out keeping our neighborhoods safe. Fay has spoken at state conferences for Communication Operators and exchanges in tremendous dialogue about such calls such as the Northern Illinois shootings, Columbine shootings, and many other horrific incidents.
Commitment, consistency, and compassion are the core principles of communication operators. We all should thank them for their help!
John Fay started as an emergency medical technician (EMT-B) in 1981 for the Northfield Rescue Squad. In 1983, Fay expanded to law enforcement, firefighting, and became a paramedic for the Glencoe Department of Public Safety and will be retiring as a Deputy Chief on October 16, 2009, whereupon he will be teaching and spending time with his five children. Fay has served as Deputy Chief for all three disciplines (police, firefighting, paramedic) as Glencoe Department of Public Safety is the only Department in the United States to receive accreditation in both law enforcement and fire services. An ordained a Deacon for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Fay has striven to bridge the work place and the church.
Fay tells FireRescue1: "During my career, I have responded to numerous tragedies from such high profile cases such as the Laurie Dann shootings in May of 1988 and more recently sent to Katrina as part of the first wave of rescue workers from Illinois to assist. Yet, it is the numerous day-to-day exchanges of those needing help that have filled my heart over the years. I will continue teaching at the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, where I have been an adjunct instructor since 1992. In addition, I teach fire fighters, communication operators, and other rescue personnel at NIPSTA (Northern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy). I am exploring other avenues to giving back to the professions of law enforcement, fire fighting, and emergency medical services that I have a passion for and deeply respect."
Being an instructor for Northwestern University allows Fay to travel about the country and listen to the many heroic feats that many fine women and men perform day in and day out keeping our neighborhoods safe. Fay has spoken at state conferences for Communication Operators and exchanges in tremendous dialogue about such calls such as the Northern Illinois shootings, Columbine shootings, and many other horrific incidents.
Sep 11, 2009, By Kayt Sukel
But simply placing a notice on a Web page or sending an e-mail isn't always sufficient. How can local governments be sure to provide the information citizens want and need in a timely fashion? And more importantly, as there may be overlap among different government departments and agencies, how can local governments be sure their citizenry can find the information they seek without difficulty?
Oakland County, Mich., a community of 1.2 million residents in the state's southeastern corner, confronted these challenges head-on by implementing a new digital communication platform. The county is going even further by letting its municipalities use the service for free.
The PlatformThe county uses a digital subscription service provided by GovDelivery. It plugs directly into an existing Web site and lets citizens sign up to receive notification via e-mail, RSS feed or text message when Web pages in specific categories are updated.
For example, if a citizen were interested in being notified about swine flu, he could go to a general subscription sign-up page on a county's or municipality's Web site. There he can select from more than 40 categories, including a high-level category called Health Division, or underlying categories like Flu Information, Flu Shots or Pandemic Flu Preparedness. Whenever a Web page tagged with that category is updated - no matter what department, agency or level of government is providing that revised information - the citizen is immediately notified by e-mail with a link to the updated page.
"Before, one might have to sign up for a general or marketing e-mail alert that may not provide information they are really interested in seeing," said Zach Stabenow, executive vice president and co-founder of GovDelivery. "But GovDelivery allows a county or city to be very specific. As a citizen, maybe I just want to sign up and receive an e-mail alert when the county commissioner's meeting minutes are posted. And now I can do that - get real-time information from my local government straight to my e-mail box and choose what that information is."
Phil Bertolini, deputy county executive and CIO of Oakland County, said allowing citizens to choose the information they want to follow is critical when dealing with a large government Web site.
"We have 25,000 pages of content on our site with 170 different content managers managing data on a daily basis," Bertolini said. "We work hard to remain up-to-date and dynamic." Because of those active, often daily content updates, the county appreciates an automatic process that does not burden its information managers with more work than they already have.
The new technology also helps save taxpayers some money.
"The communication benefit is invaluable. But the other benefit of using this kind of communication platform is that it reduces costs for the local governments," Stabenow said. "The printing and postage involved with delivering information through traditional channels can really add up."
Including MunicipalitiesOakland County started using the platform in June 2008. The county decided to offer GovDelivery to its municipalities this year. In his state of the county address in February, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson discussed the benefits of GovDelivery and offered the service to all municipalities free of charge. Although some might find the announcement surprising, Bertolini said the county's leadership is committed to helping its communities obtain the right technologies.
"We've often provided new technologies to our communities at no extra cost," Bertolini said. "After all, why build something for our treasurer that only he can use? All of our local governments have
treasurers that could benefit. Our taxpayers may live in a particular city, but they also pay county taxes. Why not use GovDelivery to satisfy the information needs of all of our citizens while working cooperatively with our local governments? It helps cement our relationship with our local communities even more."
Oakland County's agreement with GovDelivery lets the county share the platform with its 61 local governments. At the cost of approximately $8,000 per month Oakland County provides all its communities the ability to use the GovDelivery subscription service, and the municipalities aren't responsible for a dime.
When Dave Ax, treasurer of Groveland Township, heard Patterson's speech, he jumped at the opportunity to pilot the system in the small, rural community of about 6,000 residents.
"We're not techno-geeks in this office, so we rely on experts to do most of our technical stuff," Ax said. "But when I heard about GovDelivery, I thought, in this day and age, it would be very beneficial for our township residents to be reminded by e-mail that something new is happening."
Working closely with the vendor and a part-time contract webmaster, Groveland Township got the platform running with minimal glitches in just under four weeks. Ax already considers it a success - not only because residents can pick and choose what information they want to be notified about, but also because the notifications occur automatically at both the township and county levels. It creates greater efficiencies for all parties.
"The word ‘transparency' gets overused," Ax said. "But GovDelivery is helping us to be more transparent to our residents so they can see right away what we're doing as officials to better the community and make their lives easier. It not only helps the local municipalities in this time of tough cutbacks, but it allows us the opportunity to help our citizens stay current on the latest happenings across the township and county, and do it in a really easy way. And most importantly, it does not cost us a penny."
Measure of SuccessGeorge Graunke, a 72-year-old retired resident who is a regular at Groveland Township board meetings, uses the service and is very pleased with the results. An active member of the community, as well as a new member of Oakland County's Senior Advisory Committee, Graunke has subscribed to receive notifications when the agendas and minutes of board meetings are posted on the Groveland Township Web site, as well as for updated county information.
"I like to stay informed and be involved in the community," he said, "and the subscription service is very easy to use and gets me the information I need as soon as it's available."
Graunke is actively involved with the township and county, so he appreciates that the service allows him to get the information he needs from both governments without having to spend too much time digging around different Web sites. "If it wasn't so easy, I wouldn't use it," he said. "I just don't have the patience."
Jim Taylor, Oakland County's chief of e-government, said the ability to share subscription lists is a huge benefit.
"I live in a city and in the county. With shared lists, I can go to one Web site and sign up for the information I'm interested in instead of having to visit several different Web sites and poke around," he said. "After all, the official government boundaries and limits don't necessarily mean anything to the citizen. That person has an issue, needs a service or wants information and just wants to go do that."
The county is getting positive feedback about the service from its citizens. Taylor said subscriptions increased during the H1N1 scare - and because of the interest, the county was able to quickly and easily add
a new subscription category specifically for information about the disease outbreak.
"I was driving to lunch one afternoon and got a message on my cell phone that some swine flu information had been updated," Taylor said. "I was able to go to the mobile site on my phone and read the new content right away. That's very valuable to citizens who want to get that new information right away."
The point that Bertolini, Taylor, Stabenow and Ax return to is that this kind of service can help the different levels of government work together more easily.
"Oakland County's leadership has said, ‘Let's look forward and work with our municipalities - we can collaborate together,'" Stabenow said. "Within local government, it's not always easy to get separate groups of government, at different levels, working together. But Oakland County is doing it and doing it well."
Kayt Sukel is a writer based near Frankfurt, Germany. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Government Health IT and Healthcare Informatics.
By Robert Davis, USA TODAY
BOSTON — When Bobby Lie's heart stopped and he fell to the floor of his downtown high-rise office, Mayor Thomas Menino saved his life.
The mayor didn't rush to his side; a security guard did that. But emergency medical officials say Menino's leadership and his efforts to involve the community in saving lives changed the way Boston responds to such situations. Those changes saved Lie (pronounced LEE) and about 200 others over the past decade.
Powerful, proactive city leadership can turn a sluggish emergency medical system into a highly effective one, a USA TODAY study shows. The 18-month investigation, which included a survey of medical directors in the nation's 50 biggest cities, database analyses and extensive interviews and site visits, shows most big-city EMS systems are fragmented and slow, and as a result they lose about 1,000 lives a year that could be saved. (Related graphic: How 50 cities stack up):
But even an old city with complex problems can have a top-performing emergency medical system if city officials are forceful and committed. Boston is a case in point.
The best test of an emergency medical system is how many "saveable" victims of sudden cardiac arrest it actually saves. These patients must be reached and shocked with a defibrillator within six minutes, or they almost always die. (Related video: Anyone can save a life)
When Menino was elected mayor in 1993, Boston saved only 14% of these people. Menino was determined to improve that rate and make Boston's EMS among the nation's best. He tackled the system's performance on three fronts: He dealt with long-standing turf battles between the fire department and the ambulance crews; he hired a medical director to provide strong medical oversight to paramedics and insisted that EMS performance be measured meticulously; and he recruited the public's help.
Now, Boston saves 40% of cardiac arrest victims, second among the nation's biggest cities after Seattle's 45%.
The story of how Boston transformed itself is instructive, almost a manual that other big cities could follow to save more lives.
Dealing with turf battles
Boston has seen bitter disputes between firefighters and ambulance crews, the same kind of disputes that have undermined the emergency medical systems in major cities nationwide.
At the highest level, the debate in Boston has been over whether the fire department should take over the ambulance system, as other big-city fire departments have done. But on the front lines, where feuds have raged for generations, the disagreements boiled over about smaller issues.
"We had fistfights in the street" between firefighters and paramedics, Menino says. "There were real trust problems."
He saw the conflict firsthand as a city councilman in the mid-1980s. Menino sometimes would ride in the back of the ambulances on busy nights to see what the crews faced on a typical shift. He was struck by the friction between the two services.
One petty dispute, for instance, was over ambulance parking. Because ambulances carry intravenous fluids and medications that must be kept near room temperature, ambulance crews wanted to park their rigs inside the fire stations. Although the crews were not part of the fire department, they responded together to emergencies, so they had a relationship. But when fire department officers refused to allow some of the medics to park ambulances inside the firehouses, the ambulance crews were forced to run extension cords to heaters in the back of the rigs.
"Some places the ambulance would be outside, and they'd give the poor paramedics just a tiny table inside and no place for them to clean up after a run," Menino says.
That changed when he was elected mayor.
"We found them space," he says. The city converted spaces from many agencies, including the department of public works and the police department and local hospitals, to move the rigs and the crews inside, out of the cold.
Breaking down walls
Change did not come easily, particularly for the firefighters' union. The union and Menino bumped heads on more than one occasion, and not just over emergency medical services.
Menino found the union to be a powerful force. At one point in 2001 when the union and Menino were deadlocked over contract issues, firefighters protested outside the mayor's State of the City speech. Only one of the 13 city council members crossed the picket line to attend the speech.
But eventually, Menino and the firefighters made their peace. And the mayor put a stop to the debate about whether the ambulance system would become part of the fire department. It would not.
That decision went against a national trend in which fire departments have been taking over emergency medical services as the number of fire calls goes down and the number of medical emergencies goes up. Running more calls justifies more money, so Menino's decision to keep the two services separate in Boston has contributed to a steady decline in the number of firefighter jobs. At 1,600 firefighters, the department is at the lowest staffing level in 15 years, says Nick DiMarino, president of Boston Firefighters Local 718.
Though DiMarino is quick to praise the mayor and says the fire department will "support what the mayor wants to do," he also says, "I would be lying if I said I'd like to keep it this way."
Menino says that as long as he is mayor, the two agencies will remain separate, with the ambulance service an arm of the health department. Even so, the ambulance service works closely with the fire department. Firefighters carry defibrillators and respond to cardiac arrest calls, and often they are the first to reach and treat those victims.
Though an undercurrent of conflict still exists, the partnership that has been struck with the mayor's support is saving lives.
"The fire department first responders have greatly enhanced our cardiac arrest survival," says Peter Moyer, medical director of Boston fire, police and ambulance service.
Strong medical oversight
Like other major cities, Boston could not tell from its response-time measures how quickly crews were reaching and treating patients. The city knew how long it took for a rig to drive from a station to the scene, but the numbers did not tell how fast crews were providing care. So the city began to measure closely what is known as "call to shock" — the time that passes between the instant the call comes in that someone has collapsed in cardiac arrest, and the instant the first shock is delivered from a defibrillator.
Measuring this time takes manpower and enough computer equipment so that no crew has to go out of service to have its data counted. Boston EMS had the backing of the mayor to spend the money it needed.
The result was the same as it has been in other cities that have measured this time closely: More lives were saved almost immediately. By paying close attention to every case and looking at places where the system failed, the city found simple ways to reach victims faster. Sometimes it meant putting more defibrillators in public areas so security guards could grab them. In other cases, it meant better planning to get rescue units through security or past other delays more quickly.
At the same time, Menino made sure that EMS had enough money for strong medical oversight. Moyer heads a team of six doctors who track the performance of medics and give them constant feedback on the care they are providing. The city pays six physicians $400,000 a year collectively to oversee the medical care given to more than 100,000 patients a year.
Enlisting the public
When Boston looked closely at each response to a cardiac arrest, the city found that crews simply could not reach some victims within six minutes — the dividing line between life and death. Getting to the top floors of a high-rise, past the security at the city jail or to the back nine of a golf course ate up too much time.
Boston officials took a look at how other cities reached higher survival rates. They found that Seattle, for one, measures how often someone already is performing CPR when emergency medical crews arrive.
Over time, Seattle has learned that more victims of cardiac arrest survive if a bystander intervenes and performs CPR, buying the person time until a defibrillator can be applied. So Seattle's emergency medical system, called Medic One, pushes CPR training and makes citizens partners.
The city has trained ordinary citizens — from taxi drivers to restaurant employees — in CPR, making them members of what is known as Medic Two. Seattle firefighters work as instructors for the program and teach about 18,000 people a year. Since 1971, the city has trained 650,000 people. As a result, Seattle now has one of the highest "bystander CPR" rates in the nation — 44%. That means that nearly half of all cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a co-worker, a loved one or a stranger in the minutes between collapse and when emergency medical crews arrive.
"Seattle showed us it could be done," says Rich Serino, Boston's emergency medical services chief. So Boston launched its own effort to involve citizens in saving lives, offering CPR training to individuals, churches, clubs and anyone who requested it. Menino used his clout as mayor to help EMS forge a partnership with local businesses. The city asked businesses to prepare to react to a cardiac arrest on their premises by having a defibrillator on hand and by having people trained to use it and to perform CPR.
As a result, Boston's bystander CPR rate is 30%; that is, bystanders are already performing CPR when rescue crews arrive 30% of the time. The city has saved an additional 200 lives over the past 10 years with a public training program conducted by the fire department that cost $65,000 last year and is expected to cost nothing next year.
"It is extraordinarily rare to have a mayor who takes an interest in EMS like this mayor," says John Auerbach, executive director of Boston's Public Health Commission.
And Serino says the mayor's support provided a protective cover under which dedicated people could work without interruption.
"It's not an overnight success," Serino says. "It's a commitment. The idea of one-shot funding is OK for getting things started, but you have to make a long-term commitment, and that is what this mayor has done."
Menino, who until last month served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, says every major city could turn its emergency system around "if they wanted to do it."
"In government, we always find an excuse for why we don't do it. Very few people in government want to find out how we can do it. I'd rather figure out how we can do it and say, 'Why don't we have that program here?'."
Businesses on board
Among those businesses that are now prepared to act in emergencies is Fidelity Investments, where Lie is a senior vice president. On the day he collapsed last year, the lean and athletic 60-year-old executive had cut his daily workout short and taken a few spoonfuls of heartburn medicine, hoping that the pain near his heart would subside as he worked at his desk.
When a co-worker heard the thud in his office, she found him on the floor in cardiac arrest. Co-workers started CPR immediately. A "Code 10" was announced over Fidelity security's radios, which told Sean Stanek, 28, who was just five floors away, that there was an emergency.
Stanek, a "business security representative," as Fidelity calls its security guards, grabbed his medical bag, oxygen and defibrillator and raced upstairs as another member of his team called Boston EMS.
Stanek had never done CPR on a person and had certainly never shocked anybody. But his basic CPR and defibrillator training from Boston EMS — and his experience from riding along with Boston ambulance crews — had prepared him for just such a crisis.
"My head was just going back to all of my training, the basic steps," he says now. "Through repetition, it just gets ingrained in your head."
The cocoon of people surrounding Lie's body opened as Stanek approached. He told a co-worker to unbutton the victim's shirt as he reached for his scissors to cut off the white T-shirt beneath.
"The defibrillators are pretty easy to use," he says. "It read Bobby's heart rhythm and told me I needed to shock him. I shocked him once. Then it told me to start CPR, so I did."
Within seconds, Boston EMS members were walking into the office. As the emergency crew rushed Lie to the hospital, Stanek was uneasy. "I was standing outside, and I was a little nervous," Stanek says. "Did I do this? Did I do that? What if something I did could have affected him for the worse? It was a little bit nerve-racking."
Relief came hours later when his boss called to say Lie would be fine. Word spread, and Fidelity employees began signing up for CPR classes.
The same thing has happened over the past 10 years in other Boston businesses.
When a hotel security guard saved the life of a guest, other hotels called Boston EMS to join the program. Now workers in scores of businesses are part of Boston's emergency medical response.
In a less organized way, businesses across the nation have launched similar programs. Sales of defibrillators to corporations rose 35% in 2001 as private companies bought 22,742 of the automated devices, according to an industry report by Frost & Sullivan.
Still, most businesses have yet to get the equipment. Government statistics indicate 13% of all workplace deaths are caused by sudden cardiac arrest. But a study by market research company RoperASW and reported last month shows that only 6% of workplaces nationwide are equipped with portable defibrillators.
And few companies are truly part of their city's emergency medical system. That's what sets Boston apart and keeps its emergency response seamless.
Serino says the volunteers have become an army of lifesavers who now understand the strengths and weaknesses of the city's emergency medical system and are ready to fill in the gaps. They know that calling 911 and waiting for help can cost a life. And together, the city and the volunteers are better prepared to respond as a team.
"In order to have a successful outcome, they have to be a partner," Serino says. "They are part of the solution."
Boston's success could be repeated by other cities across the nation, says Charles Euchner, executive director of the Kennedy School's Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University. "There is no doubt cities can use this model," he says. "You give the resources and support for the people you are asking to carry the ball for you and then look at what the data show you.
"If you get the building blocks right, then people will be able to take care of themselves better. Ultimately, city government creates circumstances where people can take care of themselves better."
Contributing: Rati Bishnoi, Jacqueline Chong, Anthony DeBarros, Neal Engledow, Mary Grote, Erin Kirk, Jim Norman, In-Sung Yoo
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Thursday, September 10, 2009
Sep 10, 2009, By Tod Newcombe, Editor
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- If President Barack Obama's administration hopes to open up and transform the federal government with IT as the driver, it will be the CIOs who will have to turn policy into action.
Two of the fed's leading CIOs, Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Vivek Kundra and the General Services Administration's (GSA) Casey Coleman, provided some insight on how they plan to get things done in separate conversations today during the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C.
Addressing the initiative to open up data to the public, Kundra pointed out that government has a dual responsibility to make data as accessible to the public as possible and yet present it in a way that explains the government's role in serving the public. "An example is the IT Dashboard [which provides information on federal IT spending]," he said. "We made the data available in a machine-readable format, but also presented it to the public so they could see how we are spending [tax dollars] on IT in different ways."
When challenged by his host, Ellen Miller, founder of the Sunlight Foundation, on the slow delivery of data at the USASpending.gov Web site, Kundra explained that as much as the agencies want to make the data available in real time as possible, "you have to understand the [IT] infrastructure the agencies run on are aging systems ... that can't handle the demand for information" in a real-time manner.
Another obstacle is the culture of not releasing data until it is clean and accurate. This happened with the IT Dashboard, according to Kundra, who said many intermediaries argued against posting data that hadn't been fully vetted for accuracy. "But by posting it publicly early, we quickly learned from the public what the problems were and cleaned them up." As a result, a project that wouldn't have been deployed for many months, if not longer, was up and available in weeks.
In a separate session, the GSA's CIO Casey Coleman said the impetus to build a cloud computing environment was driven largely by the need to make federal government operations faster, cost less and more sustainable. "The value proposition around cloud computing does all that. That's why the GSA wants to make industry solutions for cloud computing available to the government."
In August, the GSA released a request for quotations from vendors interested in providing cloud computing services to federal agencies. The RFQ is considered by many to be a significant move toward establishing an online storefront for cloud offerings. These offerings would be available to state and local governments on the GSA platform as well.
Coleman sees government having access to a variety of cloud solutions. She said that approximately 45 percent of government applications were suitable candidates for commercial cloud offerings, either at the infrastructure level, involving on-demand storage and computing needs, as well as the higher, application level, the so-called software-as-a-service solutions offered by a number of vendors, including Google and Salesforce.com, for example.
The challenge that the government faces is predominantly cultural, according to Coleman. "There are constraints on moving [the federal government] to the cloud. The federal government isn't one culture; it's many cultures, with different budgets and stakeholders." But the value proposition of the cloud makes it possible to overcome these sorts of hurdles, said Coleman. "You can start small and scale rapidly, and build a culture that learns how to share and collaborate."
She added that there is no culture of rapid development in government. "Historically the friction that slows down development is around the end process, the time to complete the procurement and ensure security is correct," she explained. "If we can take some of the friction out [of using cloud computing] and focus on mission, we won't be consumed by the management process."
The FCC will take several steps designed to improve its ability to respond during large-scale emergencies, the commission said in a report released today.
Entitled “FCC’s Preparedness for a Major Public Emergency,” the report was prepared by the FCC’s public-safety and homeland security bureau (PSHSB), which conducted a 30-day state-of-readiness review launched by Chairman Julius Genachowski. The report does not address big-picture issues such as 700 MHz broadband, PSHSB spokesman Rob Kenny said.
“This is not a policy report,” Kenny said. “This is more of an operational and preparedness report.”
Genachowski said the report concluded that the FCC is prepared to respond to emergencies, but more work needs to be done.
“The public-safety challenges we face are ongoing, dynamic, and growing,” Genachowski said in a prepared statement. “Today’s report outlines concrete steps the FCC can and will take to better support public-safety communications and protect our nation.”
One key point noted in the report is the need for greater outreach and collaboration between the FCC and other federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), each of which was represented during a press conference this morning about the report. In addition, the FCC will initiate a pilot program this month in which a senior emergency coordinator will be sent to the Gulf Coast region.
Other points of emphasis in the report include cybersecurity, training and education within the FCC, and the need for emergency operations and alerts that are designed to ensure that the FCC maintains continuous operations and is able to deliver timely information to the public during an emergency.
PSHSB Chief Jamie Barnett said the last item is particularly timely, because a serious H1N1 outbreak is expected during the upcoming flu season. DHS estimates that 40% of the nation’s work force could be absent from their jobs during a severe influenza pandemic.
|Written by Meaghan Glassett|
|Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:05|
|The Plymouth County Commissioners have been working with local police and fire chiefs to take steps toward implementing a new regional 9-1-1 dispatch. |
The commissioners recently approved a proposal by Matrix Consulting of Andover, Mass. to design a regional public safety dispatch system.
“This is a very exciting time. We’re moving forward with some beneficial projects,” Plymouth County Commissioner Troy Clarkson said.
The committee that evaluated Matrix’s proposal included Fire Chief Tim Grenno of Whitman, Fire Chief Andy Reardon of Norwell, and the County Sheriff’s Department who are committed to improving this critical service as well as saving money.
Grenno said he feels with today’s economy that consolidating a service, which will provide equal or better service to communities, will be cost effective.
The County Commissioners had received a state grant for $50,000 to look into the feasibility of having a regional 9-1-1 dispatch center, Clarkson said.
Three sites have been proposed for the regional public safety dispatch: The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, county owned land at the Bridgewater Correction facility and the Brockton District Court are all potential locations for the dispatch center.
Matrix will be looking at the county as whole and looking at these three sites, Grenno said.
“It is not a quick process, and the fire chiefs want to make sure the process is done properly and by the book. If we are signing on to a $6 or 7 million dollar project we want to make sure it is an advanced level project.”
Communities that are using civilian dispatchers are facing severe budget issues and regionalizing may alleviate that, he said.
Several towns in Plymouth County have said they are interested in regionalizing the public safety dispatch and will be signing on, Grenno said.
Clarkson said that all 27 communities in the Plymouth County will be invited to attend an informal meeting on Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. at the Sheriff’s Department. Matrix will be there to kick off the meeting and answer any questions.
“It would be a per town choice for what resources they wish to regionalize,” Grenno said. “For my department it would free up my firefighter from the desk and put him on the streets. There would be five men on the streets, and it would be an increase in service for minimal cost.”
Grenno said right now he is paying a firefighter a salary to answer the phone when he needs him on the street.
“When people talk about regionalization they talk about cost savings,” Grenno said. “I’m not willing to save money if it will put taxpayers of Whitman in harms way to save money.”
Grenno said that regionalizing the dispatch would be a small cost savings to Whitman and that he had to weigh the fact of whether or not it will be better or equal service to the town.
Although Whitman Fire Department is on board for regionalizing the public safety dispatch, Whitman Police Chief Christine May-Stafford doesn’t feel it would be beneficial to the Police Department.
“I’d rather see one of our officers dispatching,” she said. “Your local officers are more aware of the landmarks and also the individuals in town.”
She feels the department will be able to provide better service by keeping an officer on dispatch.
“I believe when people walk in to the station they expect that there will be an officer there to take a complaint or help them at the window,’ May-Stafford said.
A town can choose to regionalize just one of their dispatch services and Whitman safety officials have different views on the project.
“Our object is to not be heavy-handed. We will offer the service to those particular towns and they can put together what works for them,” Clarkson said.
In Book, Katrina Task Force’s Gen. Honore Urges U.S. To Move Towards “Culture Of Preparedness”; In Interview, He Says Americans Are Victims Of Our Own Resources When It Comes To Disaster Readiness
The most high profile American associated with citizen preparedness may be Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Russel L. Honore who came to national prominence for his work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the four years since, Honore has been an outspoken advocate for focusing more national attention and resources on community readiness. In a new book, Survival: How A Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family (Atria), he offers some ideas on what to do and how to get there.
The book (written with Ron Martz) uses Honore’s life experiences, particularly his work as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, to help illustrate what he believes is necessary to improve the nation’s ability to deal with disasters of all kinds.
Among his proposals: disaster preparedness should be taught in elementary and middle schools; insurance companies should give weather radios to their customers or provide a rate break for those families that have them in their homes; weather radios should also be required, just as smoke alarms are, in rental properties; Red Cross debit cards should be issued to poor people in areas frequently hit by extreme weather; National Preparedness Month should be in May not September; and a National Preparedness Plan should be developed.
In a recent interview, Honore told me that the nation must put as much focus into disaster preparedness as it does to disaster response. He noted that ironically America’s resources, including the expectation that FEMA and other responders will always come to the rescue, gets in the way of its preparedness efforts. He recounted a recent visit to Cuba which has an extensive citizen readiness system, including regular hurricane drills, inspections by trained high school students and extensive pre-storm mitigation (ie. moving refrigerators and stoves from potential flooded areas): “They are a poor country. They can’t replace them.”
But he said that he feels there is movement in the direction towards creating that culture of preparedness in the U.S.. He cites FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate frequent public statements on the topic and another interesting metric. “It used to be when you googled disaster preparedness there were 30,000 hits, now you get several million.” Honore is currently an analyst for CNN and frequently gives speeches around the U.S. (more often than not on citizen preparedness). To purchase Survival, click here.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
19 08 2009
During my recent visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, I saw first hand the great job our BiH partners are doing in Banja Luka as they prepare to host the US European Command’s communications interoperability exercise, Combined Endeavor 2009. The exercise, which will be held from Sep 4-17, is in its 15th year.
This year is especially important, exciting and challenging. The planners from 40 nations agreed to try something new and “break the mold” to accomplish what has not been attempted before in Combined Endeavor’s 14-year history. In past years, all of the participating nations and organizations would, for the most part, deploy their personnel and equipment to a familiar site in Germany to test the interoperability of their communications, save one year when the exercise was in Austria. During planning conferences for this year’s exercise, the national communication leaders agreed to conduct deployable communications operations from three locations.
The Main Operating Base will be in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and two Regional Operating Sites, one each in Denmark, and the Netherlands. Denmark is also deploying equipment to each of the sites to provide the satellite connectivity to tie together the coalition network.
All participating nations will have representatives working in the Combined Joint Communications Coordination Center (CJCCC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to coordinate and oversee the exercise and interoperability testing. The results of the testing are compiled in an interoperability guide that is freely accessible to all participating nations.
During my trip I was also fortunate to visit Sarajevo, where I represented the US European Command at the ribbon cutting for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s new Ministry of Defense Operations Center. The center is modeled after the Emergency Operations Center in Maryland, the United States National Guard State Partner for BiH. I was honored to be part of the event with the US Ambassador Charles English and Bosnia and Herzegovina Minister of Defense Dr. Selmo Cikotić.
As Combined Endeavor gets underway in September, I’ll keep you up to date with future posts.
Brig Gen David Cotton
With the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks coming up at the end of the week, federal officials are continuing work to improve the nation's response to emergencies. The Federal Communications Commission is mapping out plans to keep the nation's lines of communication up and running in case something happens.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Centralized Disaster Response
Richard Serino heads development of a center for multi-agency coordination during large-scale disasters
- Cynthia Kincaid
- 2009 Apr 1
In November 2008, Boston EMS officially opened a state-of-the art regional communications and command center, called Lawlor Medical Intelligence Center, for managing the medical aspects of public health and mass casualty emergencies. Known as the "MIC," the center provides space for multi-agency coordination of medical logistics and response during large-scale disasters. And a major force behind its creation was Richard Serino, Boston EMS chief.
Inside the MIC
Despite its newness, the MIC is already a national model for other large cities because of its technology. It has a seating capacity for 68 individuals, with Internet access, power and telephone connections at each station. Laptop computers purchased for the MIC are on a single network, allowing for file sharing in real time. Departments and agencies that require representation at most events have a designated seat and phone number; other representatives at the center occupy one of the "temporary" seats for more incident-specific events.
The center is equipped with television screens for viewing news stations, projecting briefing materials and monitoring Web-based systems, such as the Web EOC hospital bed reporting or patient tracking summaries. Video conferencin g capabilities allow for communication with multiple external locations, including the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, Boston Emergency Operations Center, Unified Command Center, Boston Fire Department headquarters, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and other regional coordinating centers.
"With 26 health centers and 10 primary receiving hospitals within the City of Boston, the city’s EOC (Emergency Operations Center) was not large enough to accommodate each health-care institution or agency that plays a role in a disaster response," says Serino. The extra space provided by the MIC expands opportunities for more comprehensive representation, encompassing not only EMS and public safety, but also liaisons from hospitals, public health departments, community health centers, long-term care facilities and other first responders.
"A lot of EOCs across the country include [representatives from] public safety and EMS, but some don’t include the hospitals," says Serino. "It makes a lot of sense to bring in people from the medical community, too."
One of the benefits of including hospitals in the EOC lies in coordinating efforts among multiple institutions with similar needs. "An EOC is dealing with a lot of things, and you don’t want to have a lot of separate EOCs," says Serino. "For instance, when we had week-long drills, we found that the hospitals were doing simple things like getting staff in from outside the city. They would send a bus to the city to pick up some of their staff. Another hospital was doing the same thing. And another hospital was doing the same thing. We wondered, ‘Can’t we consolidate this?’"
In addition to serving as an intelligence center during disasters, the MIC is also used as a site for drills, exercises, training and weekly briefings related to emergency preparedness. "Another purpose of the MIC is information sharing," says Serino. "It’s a place for the medical community, the hospitals, EMS, public health, community health centers and others, who may not always be in the information sharing, intelligence loop, to meet.
He adds, "When we had the initial concept of the MIC, one of the things we were looking for was a place to bring people together, both from the intelligence side and the integrated emergency management trainings that we have for people, from all different disciplines."
As news of the opportunities for information sharing afforded by the MIC grew, so did the number and type of agencies wanting to participate. "When we started talking about the idea to the law enforcement community, the FBI asked to be a part of it so they could be aware of the medical community’s needs," says Serino. "They get information on the latest emerging diseases because we have someone from the CDC giving updates, as well."
He adds, "The fire department and the Massachusetts Port [the airport fire department] are part of it, too, as well as the Boston police. Other agencies, like the transit police, were interested, so now they come."
Serino underscores the importance of the briefings as a chance for participants to become acquainted with leaders from other agencies. "At the weekly briefing, everyone getting to know each other is key," he says. "You don’t want to be exchanging business cards at the scene of an incident or disaster. You want to have a good relationship with people beforehand. You want to be able to pick up your phone at three in the morning, and, with the relationships you’ve built, get things done."
The concept behind the MIC grew out of lessons learned while preparing for Boston’s hosting of the Democratic National Convention in 2004. "We brought together the medical community and were able to manage the event so well that the Secret Service recognized us with a Director’s Award," says Serino. "We helped Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul with their conventions; they used our plans as templates. We already had good relationships with the hospitals, and hosting the Democratic National Convention helped us go to the next level. We needed to figure out how we could build on that."
Funding for the development of the center came from the Urban Area Security Initiative grant funds, through the Boston Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, and from a Partnership for Effective Emergency Response grant, managed by Boston University and awarded by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) office of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Boston EMS responds to more than 100,000 9-1-1 calls annually, placing the system at the heart of the city’s emergency care. "We look at EMS as being a link to bringing different people together," he says.
The EMS Chief feels his department has been able to successfully bring a variety of stakeholders together with different perspectives, but shared interests, for problem solving and innovation. "First responders are trained in a certain way and are reactionary. On the other hand, public health sits back, slows down and studies things," he says. "You have to be able to bridge that gap, and we’ve been able to play a key role in bringing the different groups together."
Another example of where public health, safety and medical interests converged, with a bit of help from EMS, occurred in November 2008, when Boston EMS used their patient tracking system to track recipients of a vaccine at a flu clinic. The technology was purchased in 2006 to track patients in emergency incidents, and Boston EMS had used the system during disaster exercises—to keep tabs on injured runners during the Boston Marathon and to monitor first aid stations during July 4th celebrations. The data gathered during the flu clinic presents multiple potential public health uses, such as tracking batch numbers and vaccine types and serving as the basis for comparison with results of past flu seasons.
Serino foresees many other opportunities in the future for inter-agency collaboration. "Nothing is set in stone. We will continue to change because people have different ideas, and we’re learning as we go," he says. "There isn’t one agency or one city or one group of people that can manage any large incident by themselves. I think that’s been shown clearly over the years. But there are many opportunities to continue to build relationships and connect people who may not already be connected. And this is something that EMS can continue to foster."
Chief Serino continues to champion efforts of his department to obtain the best training; perform the best prehospital care; secure funding sources for equipment and training; and collaborate with area first responders, hospital and health-care agencies, as well as private ambulance companies.
His background certainly qualifies him to spearhead many of these initiatives. He began his career with Boston EMS in 1973 as an EMT. Over the years, he became a paramedic, rose through the ranks, and in 1999, became chief of the department, with the title of assistant director for the Boston Public Health Commission, which was added in 2007.
Despite his many accomplishments, Serino is quick to emphasize that the credit for what EMS has been able to achieve in Boston rests squarely on the shoulders of his colleagues. "A good EMT or paramedic is somebody who must be able to effectively talk with police officers, firefighters, family members and physicians in a way that everyone can understand," says Serino. "And it’s the women and men of EMS, the EMTs and paramedics, who are the ones who really make things happen."
Richard A. Serino, Nominated for Deputy Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security
WASHINGTON, DC -- President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts:
- Philip D. Murphy, Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany
- Richard A. Serino, Deputy Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security
- Dr. Marcia K. McNutt, Director of the United States Geological Survey and Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior
President Obama said, “I am grateful that these three talented individuals have decided to join my administration at a critical time for our nation, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
Abington's Serino leads Boston EMS
"There's nothing like the high you feel when you save someone's life," said Rich Serino of Boston EMS. (Bill Brett for the Boston Globe)
In his 35 years with Boston Emergency Medical Services, Rich Serino has helped save an untold number of lives, and has grieved with families when lives were lost. He's dodged bullets while trying to save a child. He's lectured across the United States and in parts of Europe, met with six American presidents, and survived a bout with skin cancer.
Even though his role as chief of Boston EMS is one of the city's most important jobs, Serino, of Abington, is not a household name. Still, many who have worked with him, in Boston as well as on the South Shore, regard him as one of the region's unsung heroes.
"It's all about saving lives and keeping the public safe," said Serino. "As much as I realize the importance of my job, I miss being out on the street working with the people directly."
For him, that experience began at age 13, when Serino and his family were driving on Route 3. They witnessed a serious collision that left accident victims spread across the road. "I saw this, and I felt helpless," said Serino, 54. "I thought to myself how I never wanted to be in that position again of not being able to do something."
Serino studied education in college and began teaching first and second grade as a student teacher. But the feelings from that day on Route 3 stayed with him, so he volunteered with the Boston Ambulance Squad and began EMT training.
"There's nothing like the high you feel when you save someone's life," said Serino. "I remember my first save was a kid who was buried in a sand pit. It's a memory that stays with you forever. There's something about knowing you can do something to help."
In 1973, Serino joined Boston City Hospital Ambulance, the precursor to Boston EMS. At just 19, he became one of the two dozen Boston EMS emergency medical technicians.
With a shortage of ambulances, Serino would sometimes ride in the back of a police car to calls. His medical bag was a Craftsman toolbox he filled with supplies at Boston City Hospital.
Six years later Serino joined the Boston EMS paramedic training program - one of the first in New England - and learned more complicated procedures, such as reading EKGs. Then Serino and his colleagues spent time "convincing the hospitals that we knew what we were doing."
As the level of care changed, so did Serino's responsibilities. He quickly worked his way through the ranks, and was named chief of Boston EMS in 2000. In addition, he serves as assistant director of the Boston Public Health Commission.
Throughout the early years, Serino was active in Abington, serving on the School Council at Woodsdale Elementary and Frolio Junior High School. He also coached several sports. Eventually, his job responsibilities edged out town work.
In 2005, Serino was diagnosed with melanoma. He continued his EMS work through radiation treatments in 2005, although he acknowledges it was not easy. The illness, he says, is a reminder of his vulnerability, and taught him new respect for people experiencing serious illness.
Serino often finds himself in the spotlight as Boston EMS maintains safety at the city's major public events, from the Democratic National Convention to parades. His department is responsible for the safety of 625,000 residents, as well as 1.3 million people who work in or visit the city daily.
"September 11 completely changed our approach to safety," said Serino, who helped write a preparedness and training program for terrorist attacks before 9/11. Under his direction, Boston EMS has become one of the most respected emergency medical service organizations in the world. A USA Today survey named Boston as the model EMS organization in the United States. Other big cities have used Boston EMS as a model.
"I credit the people who work here," said Serino. "Our goal is to do the right thing for the patients all the time."
Although his days are often 14 hours long and unpredictable, Serino makes time for his three grown children and his wife, Doreen. Their Abington home is the gathering spot on holidays. "I still love having them come around and act like kids again," he says.
He also gets a chance to show off in the kitchen.
"Baking is my way to relax," said Serino. "I just love it. Doreen and I will make the kids chocolate-chip cookies, and they have to say whose they like better." Who wins? "I do, of course," he said. "The trick is in the chips."
Serino speaks with pride about his children's accomplishments. There's Jessica, 27, who teaches in Hawaii; Bryan, a 24-year-old Suffolk Law student who in the fall will start as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan; and Peter, 21, a senior studying education at Holy Cross College.
The Serinos visit the boys at college every month or so, and take them and their friends to dinner. Serino talks of how much he misses his coaching days, and sometimes he catches a basketball game at Abington High, just to bring him back a few years and remain connected to the town.
With no plans to retire anytime soon, Serino jokes that people refer to him as "the grandfather of EMS. But I call it experience."
Boston EMS Chief Richard Serino has been tapped by President Obama to serve as the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s second in command. The White House announced Serino’s nomination as deputy administrator yesterday afternoon. He must be confirmed by the Senate before he can start the FEMA job.
by Brendan McCarthy and Laura Maggi, The Times-Picayune Saturday September 05, 2009, 11:35 PM
For the past several months, the federal building on Poydras Street has seen a steady stream of New Orleans police officers trudge in and out, all of them testifying before grand jurors gathering evidence of possible civil rights violations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina -- allegations that center on police misbehavior.
Alex Brandon / The Times-Picayune archive
Federal agents, meanwhile, have been studying police e-mails and documents obtained by subpoena -- as well as through a surprise search warrant executed on the New Orleans Police Department homicide office -- in an attempt to ferret out exactly what happened in the chaotic days after the storm.
The feds also have sent subpoenas seeking photographs to The Times-Picayune, and they have ordered a former photographer for the paper to testify before the grand jury.
Some EMS agencies have reviewed scheduling policies and made adjustments to work routines they believe will reduce fatigue and improve safety. Boston EMS Deputy Superintendent Kevin Shea says his agency runs three eight-hour shifts worked by 95% of his employees. The others work four 10-hour days. No employee works more than a 16-hour shift. "We're a pretty busy service," says Shea. "We feel that past the 16-hour point there is potential for lapses in judgment and potential for errors in driving."
"Time is still critical." When an ambulance approaches, it's always best to stay alert and calm, and do your best to get out of its way.
The fine for obstructing an emergency vehicle is $50.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Report suggests that America can learn much from Israeli example on public crisis preparedness.
Homeland Security Today - preparedness and security news - Questions of FEMA's Unfinished Work on Katrina Anniversary
Acknowledging that FEMA had made significant progress within the past four years to become more capable than ever before in its history, the senators yet posed the following queries to Fugate:
1. What lessons do you believe our government can learn about recovery and rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina? How will you implement those lessons?
2. The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (Public Law 109-295) required that FEMA complete a National Disaster Recovery Strategy, which still remains incomplete. When does FEMA plan to complete this strategy?
3. During Fugate's confirmation hearing, he told senators that FEMA must provide "active and stronger" leadership to muster the full support of the federal government to states recovering from disasters. How should this be done? Does the United States need a National Recovery Framework similar to the National Response Framework?
4. Bureaucracy at FEMA has slowed down recovery processes. Fugate told senators during his confirmation hearing he would conduct a review of these processes to eliminate such red tape. When will such a review be complete? Does Fugate believe changes are necessary to the Stafford Act (Public Law 100-707) to strengthen FEMA?
5. The Post-Katrina Act also mandated that FEMA issue a National Disaster Housing Strategy. Although a final strategy was completed in January 2009, it produced a National Disaster Housing Task Force to review it and fill in any missing details. But FEMA has not yet attempted to hire members for this full-time task force. When will FEMA do so and when will the task force complete its work?
Meanwhile, FEMA and the rest of the federal government must not forget that thousands of disaster victims remain displaced from Hurricane Katrina, Lieberman and Collins wrote.
"On this fourth anniversary, we must ensure that they are not forgotten and that our nation is capable of helping survivors recover from disasters," they said.