Rescue workers overcome their disabilities

EMT Training

Whether individuals hold jobs as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or firefighters, they need to possess the right combination of physical stamina and communication skills in order to help those in need.

Whether individuals hold jobs as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or firefighters, they need to possess the right combination of physical stamina and communication skills in order to help those in need. As a result, some may assume that people who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot complete EMT training or firefighter training and serve the public. Anyone who makes this assumption would be wrong, based on those who have not let their disability stand in the way of their dreams.

Amber Tansey – deaf and driven
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMTs should possess good listening skills, as they have to determine how extensive patients’ injuries or illnesses are. Unfortunately, these are skills 28-year-old Amber Tansey does not have, as the California native is deaf, The Press Democrat reported. Still, this does not mean she cannot communicate in other ways.

In fact, Tansey communicates in every way possible, from sign language and hand gestures to written notes and computer messages. All of her hard work is helping her achieve her goal of becoming an EMT – something she knows she can do.

To date, Tansey has had the opportunity to ride with San Francisco firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. Currently, she is trying to figure out whether she would be better suited for a job in an ambulance, on a fire truck or in another area of emergency medicine. Despite her disability, there are those who believe in Tansey, including former instructor and ambulance paramedicBryan Smith.

“She is driven,” Smith said. “She might have to be willing to be creative, and the company she works for might have to be willing to be creative. But I definitely believe she can do it.”

Deaf firefighters find ways to serve
Just as those who hold EMT jobs must have good listening skills, firefighters need to possess strong communication skills in order to work as part of a team in dangerous settings. While they may not be rushing into burning buildings, four deaf graduates of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf still find ways to help as volunteer firefighters, according to the school’s website.

These individuals rely on hearing aids, lip reading, vibrating pagers and other techniques to help them show they can be just as helpful as firefighters who are not hard of hearing. The volunteers are not permitted to enter burning buildings, but that is fine by them.

“There’s enough other work that needs to be done,” David Hazelwood, a member of New York’s Chili Volunteer Fire Department, told the website. “I want to feel like I’m giving back.”


Christmas Eve shooting raises questions about firefighter safety

Christmas Eve shooting raises questions about firefighter safety

Christmas Eve shooting raises questions about firefighter safety

On Christmas Eve, William Spengler Jr. allegedly set a fire in Webster, New York, to lure firefighters into a trap. Spengler Jr. ended up taking his own life, but not before fatally shooting two firefighters and wounding two others, CNN reported.

This tragic incident is a reminder of the dangers firefighters face every time they put on their gear and respond to a call. For some, it serves as an example of why rescue workers need to be armed.

The case for firefighters with firearms
While firefighters already receive firefighter basic training, Kip Teitsort, a veteran police officer and paramedic, would like to see these individuals receive the same level of preparation as law enforcement, KY3-TV reported. Even though incidents similar to the one that occurred in New York last month do not happen frequently, Teitsort said these professionals are attacked on a daily basis. As a result, Teitsort believes firefighters and emergency medical technicians should be trained to carry and use firearms.

“… When I hear this sort of thing I get frustrated, because there is no change,” Teitsort told the news source, in reference to the recent shooting. “There is no recognition that violence in medicine exist. It is like this dirty little secret.”

Firefighters understand the risk
News of the Christmas Eve shooting may have shocked those who have never completed firefighter training, but professionals in this line of work, such as Florida’s Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, understand the risks that come with rescue work.

“The moment you step out the door on a rescue, or truck, or ladder, you’re in a dangerous situation,” Wyse told First Coast News. “It could happen anywhere. So we always have to be mentally prepared to go into those situations.”

As firefighters are often the first people to arrive at the scene of an emergency, they never know what they will encounter. It is not uncommon for these unarmed professionals to be threatened by the very people they are trying to help.

While details from the New York ambush are certainly unsettling, Jacksonville firefighters are very familiar with tragic incidents involving rescue workers. In 1934, a firefighter was fatally shot when he responded to a call, while another firefighter was murdered in the 1970s on the night before he was set to retire.

Reduce Occupational Injuries With Industrial Safety Training

Industrial Safety Training Saves Money on Lost Hours and Medical Expenses

One effect of workplace accidents—which can cost companies an average of $350,000—is twofold: safety training is an absolute must for industrial jobs, and the ROI is worth it, substantially.

Overall, fatal workplace accidents in the U.S. are declining. But the numbers are still huge and pretty scary. More than 4,000 Americans die from on-the-job injuries every year, and each year sees more than 3 million non-fatal accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Not only that, but the annual cost of occupational accidents is over $170 billion.

For some small businesses, injuries are a once-a-year fluke. For others, it’s an understood risk. Industrial jobs at manufacturing plants and the like are prey to workplace injuries by their very nature.

The industrial workforce truly relies on the protection of OSHA regulations and inspections—whose effectiveness is constantly called into question. A study by professors from the Harvard School of Business of OSHA’s random workplace inspections revealed that companies who received random inspections showed a 9.4 percent decrease in occupational injuries. The effect on a business’s bottom line was alarming. On average, each company saved $350,000 on medical expenses and lost wages. The results are convincing, but merely being aware of a problem doesn’t guarantee a timely fix or solution. Some companies don’t have the resources or budget to complete the scrolls of paperwork and conduct the follow-up inspections left in OSHA’s wake.

A cost-effective way to address the issue is investing in industrial safety training. Industrial plant safety training will reduce occupational accidents in and of itself, but it will also help companies pass OSHA inspections and correct existing problems. If you don’t have the time or funding to train an entire team, industrial safety manager training will give one person the ability to impart advanced industrial safety practices to other workers.

Quality supervision and industrial management skills are also critical to reducing accidents at work. It’s estimated that 88 percent of injuries that occur on the job are a result of human factors or mistakes, which means most are probably preventable with more worker education and industrial safety courses. The cost of industrial skills training tends to be worth it because it saves money on other avoided expenses, like the fines, reviews, and inspections that often follow injuries requiring hospitalization. Boeing, who has been fined by the stringent state of Washington for workplace accidents, knows this all too well.

Safety training also helps uncover compliance issues before officials do, or worse, before a hardworking adult gets severely injured.

Can Firefighters Nationwide Really Do More With Less?

Budget Cuts Rip Through Fire Departments as Wildfires Blaze in Mid-West

Some towns are starting to see the consequences of the budget cuts that rippled through fire departments across the nation.

While wildfires ravage the mid-west from Montana to California, fire departments across the country face severe budget cuts. Some departments—like the Westfield Fire Department in New Jersey—have suffered as much as a 25-percent cut over the past two years. Vacancies are not being filled, nine-man shifts become seven-man shifts or less, and the effects are potentially life threatening.

Per National Fire Protection Association recommendations, four firefighters should be on duty for each piece of fire equipment that’s dispatched to the scene of a fire, whether it’s an engine or a ladder truck. But when shifts are short one or two people, certain rescue equipment can’t be used. This means neighboring towns and volunteer departments—which are farther away—have to send both manpower and equipment to assist. The association also advocates that response teams send 15 firefighters to a scene within 12 minutes. Sadly, that’s not always the case.

In an effort to urge the town council to hire more firefighters, one Westfield citizen recounted the fire that destroyed her house. Due to the “two in, two out” law, which requires two firefighters to stay outside for every two who set foot inside a burning building, Westfield firefighters had to wait outside the house for a full 15 minutes before firefighters from Plainfield, N.J. arrived as backup.

West coast cities and volunteer departments are also experiencing budget cuts that could have harsh consequences.

Last year the Los Angeles city council denied filling some 318 vacant firefighting positions. The federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, a program that gave $1.9 billion to various states and saved an estimated 13,000 jobs, spared some cities. But others, like Westfield, are seeing slower response times and higher levels of destruction due to local government penny-pinching. Since so many fire departments are facing serious budget cuts, it’s more important than ever to make sure firefighters are well trained.

Although President Obama showed support through his efforts to extend federal health insurance to about 8,000 temporary wildland firefighters, most firefighters still have to do more grueling work for less. That means firefighter basic training must be foolproof. Firefighter basic requirements haven’t changed much, but departments are tasked with scouring for quality firefighter skills training that’s also cost-effective. Online firefighter training is one possible solution, especially when one person must now fill the roles of several.

In 2011, volunteer firefighters in Texas had to buy their own gear and gas to drive the fire trucks. If departments can’t even invest in volunteer equipment, they must invest in firefighter training courses. Neither fire departments, municipal governments, nor local citizens can afford not to.

Domestic Quandary: Factories Needs Workers But Workers Need Training

Training Partnerships Groom Workforce for High-tech Manufacturing

Manufacturers are looking for control operators and engineers, but a dearth of qualified workers plagues the industry.

Although unemployment remains high, there are companies looking for employees. The notion may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true. The Manufacturing Institute reports some 600,000 unfilled manufacturing positions, and despite the masses looking for jobs, many factories are still floundering to fill vacancies.

A 2011 survey from the Manufacturing Institute found that 74 percent of manufacturers said a lack of skilled workers—like machinists, control operators, distributers and technicians—hinders productivity. Consequently, over half of the manufacturers surveyed (51 percent) said the shortage of skilled labor available makes it harder to meet customer demands. But, if there are unskilled workers hungry for jobs and technical jobs that need to be filled—there’s only one solution. We must equip them with the skills.

Harper College in Palatine, Illinois had the same idea. The community college is teaming up with local manufacturing companies to teach technical skills in the classroom, which is followed by a paid internship in the field. Training partnerships like these are emerging all over the U.S. But there are other training options available too, even for high-tech manufacturing. Online instrumentation training is another way to give potential workers the highly detailed and technical skills needed for open factory jobs.

The lack of unskilled manufacturing workers is a nationwide problem. Nearly 20 percent of Oregon’s gross state product comes from manufacturing, yet there’s still an evident skills gap due to a dearth of qualified candidates. This makes the competition incredibly stiff for non-experienced workers without instrumentation and control training. Good machinists are snatched up quickly, making the field ripe with opportunity for those who are interested in control operator training and instrumentation training. The field is also reliable; it’s clear America needs and will continue to need manufacturing to keep chugging.

Consumer goods manufacturing may never be firmly entrenched in American cities like it used to be, but heavy equipment manufacturing still flourishes here. But if we’re to keep supporting domestic manufacturing, we need lots of training partnerships and programs to recover the workforce. We also need to start encouraging children and teens to consider a future in manufacturing.

Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin participates in a program that teaches students skills necessary for manufacturing jobs. By the time these kids graduate high school they can weld and read blueprints. Top that off with advanced control training or engineering skills—and as a job candidate for manufacturing—young adults are prime for the picking.

If more training partnerships target youth, perhaps future generations will fill the rising demand for high-tech manufacturing gigs.

Counties Nationwide Invest in More Police Training

Rural Departments See Benefits of Specialized Training

Police departments stand to gain much from additional law enforcement training. Check out these rural areas that are investing in various specialized training.

For some police departments, investing in additional training is a financial boon for the entire department. Regular training can lead to insurance discounts, renewed knowledge transferal, and a close-knit department.

Read the following examples of rural areas across the country that employ various sheriff department training courses and safety programs.

  • Jasper County in Missouri mandates that all deputies and officers receive extra behind-the-wheel training for braking and evasive maneuvers in both daily driving and high-speed chase scenarios. Officers are required to complete the specialized police training once a year, which secures the department an insurance discount of $14,000.
  • The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and the Aiken Department of Public Safety outside Augusta, Georgia just participated in a two-day law enforcement training for female officers sponsored by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association. The survival course aims to teach women how to use their strength and physique to defend themselves in different violent attacks.
  • Two members of the domestic violence intervention division of Prince George’s County Office in Maryland graduated from the Roper Victim Assistance Academy of Maryland in early June. The training program, which covers victims’ rights and victim advocacy, gave two officers new knowledge to share with the rest of their unit.
  • The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department in Colorado received AED devices (Automated External Defibrillator) for their Rural Area Division officers, who often arrive on a scene before ambulances with EMS personnel. The rural police officers were trained how to properly use the life-saving tool, requiring lessons in monitoring heart rhythm and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Those officers who patrol the parks and back country areas said this kind of sheriff deputy training will save hikers, bikers, firefighters, and others out in the wilderness.

As Margaret Moore, an investigator for the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said “As a police officer, anytime there is training available, you should go.”

Would you argue with her? I didn’t think so.

Safety and Training are High on Agenda for ET&D Partnership

More ET&D Training Helps Reduce Power Line Injuries

The Electrical Transmission and Distribution Strategic Partnership focuses on enhanced safety training. For member partners, the benefits are stacking up.

Real steps are being taken to enhance the safety of power line workers who perform one of the most dangerous yet essential jobs in the country. The Electrical Transmission and Distribution Strategic Partnership, a rallying of trade associations, unions, and contractors, dedicated a week in May to nothing but safety initiatives. The event falls neatly in line with the partnership’s history of safety-focused efforts.

Since its 2004 conception between ET&D employers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the positive results have been plentiful. Among member partners, their joint efforts yielded fewer fatalities, lower injury and illness rates, and more transmission and distribution training.

In the span of two years, more than 13,300 workers received electrical transmission and distribution training in an industry-specific OSHA 10-hour outreach program. Around the same time, almost 6,000 managers and supervisors added to their qualifications with a Supervisory Leadership Skills training course. Power line safety is a top priority, and quality workplace environments and leadership reduce some level of hazard.

Power line safety should be a steady priority, especially as gas and electric companies are making serious investments to meet growing energy needs. Between two utility companies, the Louisville Gas and Electric Company and the Kentucky Utilities Company, more than 4,000 generation, transmission, and electric and gas distribution projects occurred in the past two years. New projects, like a proposed natural gas line in the same area, require more workers. And new hires often need transmission line training or enhanced safety training to truly fit the bill.

Other eastern regions are investing in similar projects. The Local Infrastructure and Transmission Enhancement (LITE) initiative in New Jersey has completed 24 individual projects since 2011, and it’s still going strong. More than $8 million worth of LITE projects are slated for completion by the end of the year. It seems customers are seeing the benefits of improved transmission lines and upgraded equipment as power line workers see the benefits of targeted safety efforts and ET&D training.

Due to a rise in productivity from fewer workplace accidents and better-trained workers, the benefits are seeping into customer service. Skilled workers with fewer safety concerns will do a better job and create more satisfied customers.

Sounds like the ET&D Strategic Partnership has the right idea.

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