Public Safety

Public Safety News, Events, and Information

Members Support Downtown Annapolis As Safe Health Practice Ambassadors

AAACERT members Joseph and Rosy Dorffner pause while serving Annapolis, May 30. Members Greg Burch, Joseph Whitworth, and Laurie Goodell (not pictured) also served that day in the state capital city.

Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) members are assisting the City of Annapolis in the downtown area as safe health practice ambassadors. While on their walks, the AAACERT members encourage downtown guests to maintain social distancing, avoid large groups, and wear masks. When they have masks available, they are also handing out face coverings and offering hand sanitizer to those who want them. AAACERT has no enforcement role while performing this function, though they are equipped with radios to maintain situational awareness or contact police, if necessary.

Being safe practice ambassadors is only one role AAACERT is serving right now. Members are also volunteering at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank in Crownsville, the County Donation Center in Odenton, the food drives in Brooklyn Park and Annapolis, and the county Office of Emergency Management call center in Glen Burnie. To date, AAACERT has supported the county with more than 1800 hours of volunteer service since the stay-home orders began in March.

20 Twitter accounts we’re following on COVID-19 preparedness

When you hear something on social media about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, it’s important to consider who is making the statement or suggestion, what they are asking you to do, and what is the evidence for their suggested course of action. During a disaster response, it’s vital to seek out trustworthy sources of information and help dispel rumors.

So here are a few of the Twitter accounts we’re following at @AAACERT for federal, state, county, and local news on COVID-19 preparedness in Anne Arundel County. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. However, if you’d like to suggest other trusted local sources of information on the novel coronavirus pandemic to follow, please email AAACERT Public Information Officer Jonathan Hutson, PIO@aaacert.org.

20 Trustworthy Twitter Accounts on COVID-19 Preparedness

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (@Steuart_Pittman)

Anne Arundel County Public Schools (@AACountySchools) Official Twitter account of Anne Arundel Co. Public Schools, 1 of the 50 largest school systems in the US & the 5th largest in MD.

Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management (@AACO_OEM) The Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management manages the County’s response to major emergencies.

Anne Arundel County Department of Public Health (@AAHealth) Official Twitter source for health updates.

Centers for Disease Control and Preparedness (@CDCgov) CDC’s official Twitter source for daily credible health & safety updates from Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

CDC Emergency (@CDCemergency) The handle for CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response (CPR). They tweet ways to #PrepYourHealth, and tips about public health preparedness and emergency responses.

CDC Emerging Infections (@CDC_NCEZID) NCEZID works to protect people from emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases, from anthrax to Zika.

City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management (@AnnapolisOEM)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (@FEMA) Their story of supporting citizens & first responders before, during, and after emergencies.

FEMA Emergency Management Institute (@FEMA_EMI) Official Twitter account of the Emergency Management Institute of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA Region 3 (@FEMAregion3) Region III serves DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, & WV. This channel provides FEMA mission-related information. For emergencies, call your local fire/EMS/police or 9-1-1.

Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan), 62nd Governor of the State of Maryland.

Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Public Health Emergency (@PHEgov) PHE.gov provides information on disaster health preparedness, response & recovery.

Homeland Preparedness News (@homelandprep) Covering the efforts undertaken by government and private sector to protect citizens from the ever evolving threats to the homeland. Be in the know.

Maryland Center for School Safety (@safeschoolsmd) Providing a coordinated and comprehensive policy for school safety in Maryland in collaboration with schools, public safety, and parents.

Maryland Emergency Management Agency (@MDMEMA) Their mission: To proactively reduce disaster risks and reliably manage consequences through collaborative work with Maryland’s communities and partners.

Maryland Health Department’ Office of Preparedness & Response (@MarylandOPR) Prepares for and responds to public health emergencies and administers the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps.

Maryland Poison Center (@MDPoisonCtr) Providing free poison exposure advice to Marylanders 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.

Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (@disasterstrat) The mission of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies is equal access and full inclusion for the whole community before, during & after disasters.

And please remember to follow and retweet the Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (@AAACERT).

Training for Response to Opioid Overdose

Open bottle of generic prescription medicine. Both prescription painkillers and street drugs contribute to the opioid epidemic in Maryland.

Both prescription painkillers and street drugs contribute to the opioid epidemic in Maryland. (Photo: Shutterstock.com/Leigh A. Williams)

On Oct. 16, Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) hosted Mr. Paul Bowling, who provided training on the Maryland Overdose Response Program. Mr. Bowling is a Physician Assistant with over 40 years’ experience in Trauma, Critical Care, and Emergency Medicine and is also involved in Healthcare Emergency Management. Mr. Bowling currently serves as the president of AAACERT.

Mr. Bowling noted that Anne Arundel County has a particularly high rate of opioid overdose deaths. Anne Arundel’s total deaths by opioid overdose in 2018 exceeded those of some of the neighboring counties in Maryland.

An opioid is any drug that contains opium or its derivative. The opioid crisis began in the 1990s with the free flow of these substances due to liberal prescription practices by providers and promotion by drug companies. Opioids can be either prescription medications or illegal drugs, and are ingested by various means. The most common opioids are the prescription drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, morphine, and codeine; as well as the illegal drugs heroin and fentanyl.

Opioids vary in lethality per individual and circumstances. They are especially lethal for the elderly. Moreover, as opioids act on the brain, they become increasingly more toxic when mixed with another opioid, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and/or cocaine.

The effects of an opioid overdose can be reversed by naloxone (brand name Narcan). Naloxone reverses opioid overdose and restores breathing within a few minutes of being administered. It has no effects on a person who has not taken opioids (including the person giving it), so it is safe even if an overdose is mistakenly understood but has not occurred; moreover, the other side effects of naloxone for the person in overdose are minimal and rare. Naloxone can be given intranasally, intramuscularly, or intravenously. The drug onset is within 1-2 minutes, and it wears off in 30-90 minutes. Unfortunately, there are super-opioids on the street for which one dose of naloxone is not sufficient, so further dose(s) may be required.

Opioid overdose is characterized by several signs and symptoms. Like a person who is “high,” the victim’s pupils become very constricted (small). However, the victim may also display the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring or gargling noises
  • A very limp body
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Pale or grey, clammy skin
  • Bluish lips and fingertips
  • A slow or erratic pulse
  • Slow, shallow, or no breathing
  • Unconsciousness

Due to the dangers of an opioid’s effects impacting the responder, it is imperative always to wear gloves when attempting to help the victim.

The following steps are recommended when responding to an opioid overdose victim.

  • Rouse and stimulate the victim by touching, shaking his/her shoulders, or (carefully) performing a sternal rub.
  • Call 911. *
  • Administer naloxone.
  • Perform further resuscitation. If the person is not breathing, or has shallow/short breaths, give rescue breaths (preferably with a barrier), or – if you are trained in CPR – chest compressions with rescue breaths.
  • Care for the victim until professional responders arrive.

*Administer the naloxone first if the person is unconscious; a second dose may be necessary after calling 911.

When administering naloxone, allow 1-3 minutes for the medication to work. If breathing is not restored after 2-3 minutes, give another dose, and continue resuscitation as necessary. Be sure to follow the 911 dispatcher’s instructions once you have called.

It is also important to stay with the individual until medical help arrives. S/he may feel ill or agitated or need to vomit. If the person cannot sit up, make sure they are in the recovery position (right side, arm supporting head, bent knee to support body). Help the person to stay calm, and encourage him/her not to take more opioids. Remember that a person “coming to” is often annoyed, confused, and/or combative, so be sure to stay alert and protect yourself.

If you administer naloxone, it is important to call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) within two hours after the event, as this entity tracks the lethality of various street drugs, where they are trafficked and used, and other key information about opioids.

Finally, if you respond to an opioid overdose in progress, be assured that you cannot be held liable for a good faith attempt to help someone. Under the “Good Samaritan” measures in the Code of Maryland, Health General, Section 13-3110, “an individual who administers naloxone to an individual believed to be experiencing an overdose shall have immunity from liability under Sections 6-603 and 5-629 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.” Additionally, the Code of Maryland, Criminal Procedure Article, Section 1-120 states that, “a person who seeks, provides or assists with medical assistance for another person experiencing an alcohol- or drug-related medical emergency cannot be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for possession of a controlled dangerous substance; possession or use of drug paraphernalia; or providing alcohol to minors.” Moreover, calling 911 will not affect the parole or probation status of a person attempting to help.

Naloxone is available as a prescription from any licensed healthcare provider with prescribing authority or an authorized ordering, referring, or providing (ORP) entity that dispenses naloxone. Per statewide standing order, any person can obtain naloxone at a participating pharmacy. For a list of pharmacies that stock naloxone, visit the Maryland Department of Health Behavioral Administration’s information page.

AAACERT trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies. For more information, visit www.aaacert.org.

By Laurie Goodell

Biological Incidents and the Role of CERT

Lab technician with gloved hands
A CDC scientist works in the lab to study the flu virus. (Photo: James Gathany/CDC).

Ms. Arlene G. Crow, Emergency Manager for Anne Arundel Community College, recently provided training to the Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) on the operational members’ potential role in a biological incident.

Ms. Crow began the session by outlining the various forms and categories of bio-agents that might trigger a need for prophylactic dispensing to the general public. Bio-agents can occur in one of three forms: bacterial, virus, or toxin. Bacterial agents are distinguished by, among other things, their ability to replicate cells independently. Viruses, however, cannot reproduce outside the host body. A third type of agent, toxin, is a potent poison with organic origin.

Bio-agents are categorized according to their ease of transmission or dissemination; severity of mortality potential; need for preparedness; and ability to threaten national security or day-to-day social functioning. Category A, the highest-risk agents, include anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, tularemia, and certain viral hemorrhagic fevers. Category B agents include ricin, salmonella, certain encephalitis fevers, waterborne threats such as vibrio cholerae, and others. Category C agents are those with an emerging pathway, and which could be engineered for harm to the public. These include influenza, rabies, drug-resistant tuberculosis, SARS, and others. Emergency managers must be prepared to respond to a potential outbreak of any category agent.

The next phase of the training focused on the origins and symptoms of Category A bio-agents that cause the highest threat to the public: anthrax, tularemia, plague, smallpox, and viral hemorrhagic fevers. Ms. Crow noted that nearly all of these agents’ initial symptoms are flulike, highlighting the challenge for medical responders and diagnosticians in determining exactly with what malady a patient may present.

In all cases of a potential bio-threat, health departments, in conjunction with emergency managers, would act swiftly to establish points of dispensing (PODs) to distribute prophylactic medicine from the Strategic National Stockpile on a large scale that could protect the public. PODs can be set up indoor, outdoor, or as drive-thrus. Ms. Crow noted the efficacy of drive-thru PODs due to their ease of use for the public, the police, and the medical community. She reminded CERT members of the need for logistical necessities for all who participate, either as customers or workers – i.e., a large space, full gas tanks, available bathroom facilities, food for workers, etc.

CERT members have an important role in the smooth functioning of a POD. Among the functions CERT teamers can carry out during a POD are traffic control/lane controllers; set-up and tear-down; administrative support; communications/runners; data collection; resupply; greeters; logistics; and, in some cases, even dispensing or assisting with the dispensing of medication.

For more information on bioterrorism and response, visit the Centers for Disease control (CDC’s) information page.

Members Assist Responders at Preparedness Expo

Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) members supported the annual Preparedness Expo on Sept. 21 at Marley Station in Glen Burnie. Arriving by 6:30 a.m. for the operational briefing, CERT members then took their stations to participate in traffic control, assisting vendors with set-up, directing vehicles within the perimeter, and helping to provide extra eyes and ears for general safety. Most of the CERT members stayed to work the entire event, including teardown, which concluded around 3:00 p.m.

The Preparedness Expo is a yearly event hosted by the Anne Arundel Office of Emergency Management to familiarize the public with the many functions and activities of the response community. At the 2019 Expo, more than 45 participating organizations provided displays of their skills, literature, gifts, and personal representatives to help individuals and families learn how to be ready for disasters and incidents. Exhibitors invited children to climb into vehicles to see the dashboards; animal handlers gave demonstrations of canine aptitude; and fire personnel gave live demonstrations of safety or extinguishing practice.

“You just don’t realize everything these [responders] do every day,” remarked one visitor in passing, “and we are so blessed to have them in our community.” She added her thanks to responders for their availability, time, and training.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security designates every September as National Preparedness Month. Visit the agency’s website to find numerous resources aimed at helping families be ready for any emergency or disaster they might face.

AAACERT trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies.

Upper Marlboro Community Day

Making sure that the first time we work together isn’t during an emergency or disaster, AAACERT members Bruce Morgenstern, Rosy Dorffner, Joe Dorffner, and Marilyn Zachariah (not pictured) supported Upper Marlboro CERT with the Town of Upper Marlboro Community Day as volunteer ambassadors, providing safety/security and general support.

Upper Marlboro CERT members shown in the photo are Wanda Leonard, president of Upper Marlboro CERT and Town Commissioner, Peggy Keller, and Charmaine Cook.

Monthly Training Explores Dangers of Improvised Explosive Devices

On Wednesday, May 15, Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) President Paul Bowling conducted the group’s monthly training, focusing this iteration on CERT safety in incidents of improvised explosive devices and bombings. The training was held at Anne Arundel Community College.

Among the many new facts Paul shared with the group, he reminded attendees of their first priority – safety – per basic CERT training, when responding to an incident of any type. The group also reviewed the “RAIN” protocol for dealing with potentially damaging devices or substances.

R Recognize (Know that a device or substance may be dangerous.)

AAvoid (Leave the immediate area right away.)

IIsolate (Move yourself away from the suspected device, and try to keep anyone else from going near it.)

NNotify (Call 911, and tell the dispatcher exactly what you have found and where it is so the proper, trained authorities can come and handle the situation.)

Approximately 28 participants attended the training, which served as a model of inter-organizational collaboration. The group included members of AAACERT, Upper Marlboro CERT, Greenbelt CERT, and Berwyn Heights CERT, as well as Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) members from Prince Georges and Anne Arundel counties.

Photo: Instructor Paul Bowling shared some data collected by the New Mexico Tech Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center.

Skywarn Spotter Course

Do you have an interest in weather? Would you like to be able to help your local National Weather Service (NWS) office by providing the ground truth on the atmosphere that we observe from radar, satellites, and various reporting stations? If so, consider attending the SKYWARN® program Basic course.

In this course, NWS personnel train attendees to recognize features associated with developing, mature, and dissipating thunderstorms that cause hazardous weather such as lightning, flooding, hail, tornadoes, and downbursts. The attendees will also learn basics about winter weather and
tropical hazards.

At the end of the course, graduates will be assigned a SKYWARN® spotter number which will be maintained in the official database at the NWS in Sterling. They will also be directed how to report this vital weather information. Those who have attended in the past but want a refresher, are welcome to attend again.

This SKYWARN® Spotter Class is offered free of charge from the combined efforts of the local NWS Forecast Office and Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management. A National Weather Service meteorologist will teach the class and provide related materials.

Registration is required to attend the class. Please click here to register.

Thursday, April 4, 2019
1830-2030 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)

Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
7480 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd.
Glen Burnie, MD 21061

Contact lwx-report@noaa.gov for questions or concerns regarding the class.

“Skywarn® and the Skywarn® logo are registered trademarks of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, used with permission.”

Photo: Vasin Lee/Shutterstock.com

If It Smells Rotten … Beware! Poison Toxic Tidbits

From ToxicTidbits a monthly publication of Maryland Poison Control Center, University of Maryland.

You are standing near a sewer line and smell rotten eggs. You are helping to resuscitate a patient in cardiopulmonary arrest and smell bitter almonds.
What is that odor?
Volatilized chemicals that humans and animals perceive by the sense of smell  (olfaction) cause odors. Some odors are pleasant while others are unpleasant or even repulsive. An odor can serve as a warning of potential danger. In medicine, recognizing odors is an important skill. It can aid in rapid diagnosis, guide laboratory evaluation and may allow for early treatment before the development of more serious clinical signs … READ THE ARTICLE.

Chemical Suicides Create Dangerous Environments for First Responders

Three law enforcement officers in Georgia were hospitalized in May after being exposed to toxic fumes at the scene of a possible chemical suicide. Chemical suicides involve people mixing easily-attainable chemicals to produce a toxic gas, which can kill rather quickly. Often this is done in an enclosed space such as a car; occasionally people use “exit bags”: plastic bags placed over the head, connected to a gas supply. Instructions are,  unfortunately, readily available on the internet.

car in dark alley

In many but not all chemical suicide incidents, the victim leaves a written warning for whomever will find them. Typically, the first instinct when faced with an unconscious person in a car is to open a door or break a window; in a home or hotel, rushing in after gaining access is also the norm. Though well intended, these actions also endanger first responders or anyone else attempting to render aid.

It is important to gain situational awareness and take time to perform a quick evaluation of the scene for responder safety — even if time is critical:

  • Look for signs taped to doors or windows warning of any danger.
  • Look in the windows for chemical containers or chemical fog.
  • Take notice of any faint chemical odors.
  • Look for tape sealing the edges of doors, windows or vents.

For more information, see the Chemical Suicide Case Study and training for first responders offered by HazMatNation.com. The International Association of Fire Chiefs also offers resources and a webinar on chemical suicide response.

This article appeared in the May 24, 2018 InfoGram PDF ~160 KB. |  Subscribe to the InfoGram

Other articles include:

  • Emergency management planning for schools
  • Coordination between emergency management and water utilities
  • EMS Week: Stronger Together

New Online Course: Religious and Cultural Literacy and Competency in Disaster

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is offering a new self-paced, independent study course, Religious and Cultural Literacy and Competency in Disaster.

This course explores how religious and cultural communities are engaged during disasters, how religious and cultural diversity and practice is protected by law, and how religious and cultural diversity can strengthen emergency management capabilities.  It provides emergency management professionals and faith and community leaders active in disaster with literacy and competency tools to engage religious and cultural groups both pre- and post-disaster.

The course was developed to support partnerships between the first responders and faith-based and community organizations to more effectively serve disaster survivors in their time of need.
https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-505

Anne Arundel – Annapolis CERT to assist American Red Cross with Smoke Detector Program

The Anne Arundel – Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will assist the American Red Cross and local Fire Departments with fire education and installing fire alarms on Saturday, 16 January, from 10AM to 4PM.

Home fires in the United States kill more than 2,500 people annually and cause an average of 13,000 injuries. Fire prevention is crucial and achievable.

The volunteers will be canvassing the Pasadena and Annapolis areas and offering to install smoke alarms in homes… for FREE! Homeowners will also receive some important information regarding fire safety and checklists.

So be on the lookout.

If you have any photos from the event, feel free to send to communications@aaacert.org

Man vs. Machinery Incidents: Are You Prepared? – Webinar

Although CERT isn’t directly involved with response this still may be a seminar of interest and benefit.

Man vs. Machinery Incidents: Are You Prepared?
Date: December 29, 2015
Time: 3:00 PM EST / 2:00 PM CST / 12:00 PM PST / 8:00 PM GMT

Event Description:
A variety of machinery-entrapment situations are presented. Students learn how to effectively operate at these incidents from scene size-up until the disentanglement is complete. The focus is on looking at the big picture to realizing that not all disentanglements need to be complex. Lock-out/tag-out, equipment options, medical considerations, and actual incidents are discussed.

REGISTER

Skywarn Spotter Flood Class

Anne Arundel – Annapolis CERT and the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management is sponsoring a Skywarn Flood Class. This class will be presented by professional Meteorologist from the National Weather Service from Sterling Virginia.

Training in the Flood class is a good overview of flood threats in this area. It is intended for everyone. Basics I is a prerequisite for this class. The Flood class includes:

  • Role of spotters & review of area
  • What to report & how
  • Types of flooding
  • Forecasting and meteorology of flooding
  • Review of some flooding cases
  • NWS products for flooding

Date: 2016 April 21
Time: 1900 – 2200 (3 hours)
Location:
Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management
7480 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd.
Glen Burnie, MD 21061