What’s Your Fall or Confined Space Rescue Plan?

You have a fall protection program. You have a confined space procedure, That’s all great and good but even the best laid plans of mice and men, as they say… So what’s your rescue plan? What’s going to happen when, despite all the training and preparations, something goes wrong?

All too often, as we call on customers we hear them answer that question with “We’ll call 911!”

Maybe it’s time to reexamine that rescue plan for a number of reasons:

  1. Are 911 emergency personnel going to be able to able to make it there in time? In a great many cases, unless you’re right next door the fire department response times are going to be high; to high to save the life or lives.
  2. Are 911 personnel trained in the kind of rescue that is necessary? Confined Space rescue and rescues after a fall aren’t normally among the training that 911 emergency personnel get. They might not be able to do a proper rescue.
  3. Do emergency personnel have the right equipment? Rescues from falls and confined space require specialized equipment. Don’t assume that your fire department or 911 emergency response team has this gear, especially in smaller towns where there isn’t a lot of funds.

OSHA requires you to have an emergency rescue procedure and plan in place. If you haven’t checked with your local 911 team to see if they can meet the above criteria, you’ll be held responsible, not them.

Start with proper training like the training available through convergence training but don’t stop there. Run through the scenario and have emergency drills. Mainly, make sure that you are equipped and prepared because once you’re in the middle of an emergency it’s too late to find out that your local 911 response team can’t handle the job.

At What Point in a Rescue Operation Should You Call 911?

When do you call 911 in case of emergency? In most cases it’s pretty obvious but in other instances it isn’t as cut and dry.

A perfect example is the court ruling that recently cost Dukane Precast, Inc. a $70,000 fine (not to mention the cost of the medical bills for the employee in question). Here’s what happened…

William Ortiz was in a sand storage bin outside Chicago Illinois when the sand beneath him shifted and trapped him with just his head above the sand line. Other workers in the area were able to free his arms and torso but his waist and legs remained trapped. Someone went and got the supervisor after 10 minutes and the supervisor ordered other workers to help free Ortiz but the sand kept shifting and they were unable to get him free.

After 90 minutes of being trapped and of trying to extract Ortiz, the supervisor finally called 911. It took emergency workers almost 4 hours to get him out of the sand and he was then taken to the hospital. He suffered damage to his lower back as well as a torn meniscus due to the pressure of the sand on his legs and lower back.

At issue is whether the supervisor should have immediately called 911 or whether or not he was justified in waiting till they had tried their own rescue attempts.

OSHA requirements for confined space state that a company is required to “develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants from permit spaces, for providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees, and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting a rescue.

While the first phase of this rescue plan seems to indicate that calling 911 is important, it also seems that an alternative is given in cases where they believe that they can safely do the rescue themselves.

Do you believe that Dukane was negligent? Should they have called 911 before attempting to free Ortiz? What it “negligence”?

Let me know what you think!

WatchMe911 Phone App

WatchMe911 is one very cool app when it comes to personal security and safety. Once installed on your smart phone it might just become your favorite app and potentially a life-saver.


It has 4 different icons:

1. Monitor Me – Turn this on when you’re going somewhere you aren’t feeling comfortable. Say you’re going to look at a car that you might be interested in purchasing and you’ve got to go to the sellers’ home to look at it. A timer is activated and if you don’t deactivate it the contacts that you’ve set up on the app are sent a text message letting them know that you haven’t responded. Because the message is on the cloud it goes through even if your phone is turned off or you have no reception. This app is great for you joggers out there. Turn it on when you start and turn it off when you get home. If the timer isn’t deactivated, your contacts also are sent a map  of your location.

2. Panic – Once activated a simple double tap sends a distress call to 911 along with a map so they know where to find you.

3. I’ve Arrived – In an ideal world we always call our loved ones when we arrive somewhere, especially after a long trip. In a realistic world we don’t always have time. This app solves that problem. Tap the icon three times and it sends your contacts a message with a map and GPS location letting them know you’ve arrived safely. Great for business travelers, college kids, etc…

4. Call 911 only – This is for those of you who don’t want to pay for the other three functions. This one is always 100% free. It essentially functions the same as the “panic” function but it’s a stand alone function that doesn’t include the other two functions.

Read more about this app at http://safetyalertapps.com/

9/11 Emergency Responders Suffering Asthma

According to a new article published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, “The majority of WTC-exposed fire department rescue workers experienced a substantial decline in airflow over the first 12 months post-9/11These conditions include irritant induced asthma, non-specific chronic bronchitis, aggravated pre-existing obstructive lung disease (asthma or COPD), and bronchiolitis.

The most common respiratory symptom was a severe cough. The complaint is so common, in fact, that it has been given the name of “World Trade Center Cough Syndrome”. While the cough seems to decrease with time, the shortness of breath remains. “These conditions, which became apparent up to several months after September 11, 2001, are now chronic and will require long-term treatment.”

It is believed that the cause of the pulmonary problems experienced by emergency responders is due in large part to the cement dust that was in the air after the collapse of the towers. Cement is highly alkaline and the body generally responds “less effectively to alkaline chemical injuries than to acidic chemical injuries, because of the limited buffering capacity of blood and body fluids for substances of high pH.”

You can read more about the different types of pulmonary problems and the projected long-term treatments that they may require in the Special issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine Volume 54, Issue 9, pages 649-660, September 2011 or you can read the article “The evolving spectrum of pulmonary disease in responders to the World Trade Center tragedy” online.

September is National Preparedness Month

This month marks the 10 years since 9/11. This month is also National Preparedness month.

Being prepared not only makes sense, it is a duty for each one of us. When an emergency strikes responders cannot help everyone and resources are stretched to the max. Being prepared allows official responders focus their time, energy and resources on the most needy (handicapped, wounded, elderly, children, etc…).

Being prepared means being educated and it means having emergency supplies on-hand.

What are the supplies you’ll need?

Food means having emergency rations. This can be freeze dried food, energy bars, canned goods and any other type of non-perishable food. Remember, however, not to tap into them until you’ve exhausted all the food in your fridge and freezer, in that order. Work your way through the food in the fridge first, don’t even open the freezer until the food in the fridge is used up. Then, once you do open the freezer, work through the food as it thaws (eat up stuff that is thawed first and allow stuff that is partially or completely frozen to remain in the freezer until it has thawed too). Then and only then, should you tap into the emergency rations. Emergency Smartpacks that are endorsed by the Red Cross are a way to go. Have several of these available for each person in your household. One of the advantages of these type of emergency packs are that you can take them with you if you have to leave or are evacuated.

You should have several 5 gallon containers of water stored for emergency. You need one gallon per person, per day. As soon as the power goes out, fill up the bathtub. If water does run low after a while remember that you can use the clean drinking water in the toilet tank as well as in the water heater if you have to.

Source of heat

Wood stoves are the best source of heat in emergencies. Beware of using kerosene heaters and other types of heaters that might give off CO. You should have emergency blankets available. The silver aluminized blankets are extremely small to store and very effective in “reflecting” the body heat back. Use it in conjunction with other blankets for maximum warmth.

Emergency Radio
A battery powered emergency radio will keep you informed of shelters, emergency posts, news, etc… Remember to have enough batteries to keep it functioning as long as possible. Use the radio sparingly, just to check news and information, to maximize battery use.

Flashlights and lightsticks
One of the best advances in technology in the past few years has been the LED light. Because it uses so little energy, the batteries in the flashlights last 25 + longer than conventional bulbs. Have a few LED Flashlights on hand as well as several spare batteries and you should be good to go for quite a long time. Lightsticks are also a must have. There are several different types available, some which will burn up to 12 hours. Simply snap and shake and you’ve got a safe source of light, no matter what the conditions. They even work underwater. They will store for a very long time and will be ready for use when you need them.

First Aid supplies
In case of emergency, you’ll need more than just a basic first aid kit. A major emergency medical kit would be a good investment to keep on hand. Having first aid certification is also a good idea. If you don’t have it, however, most kits include a basic manual to walk you through the basics of what you’ll need to know for most emergencies medical issues.

Special circumstances also warrant special supplies. If, for example you’ve got someone who has medical needs that require power, you should probably invest in a good quality generator and plenty of fuel to keep their equipment running when the power is lost.

For more help in being prepared, be educated. The Red Cross has put out a great 4 page booklet that you can download for free that will help you be ready for any and all emergencies.

We all hope and pray for a long and safe life with no major catastrophe and emergencies. The reality is, however, that doodoo happens sometimes. Being prepared and knowing what to do when an emergency hits can make all the difference, even possibly between life and death.

Do you have a Family Emergency Plan?

No one who was alive on September 11, 2001 will ever forget it. We watched in horror as our country was attacked by terrorists. We watched a cowardly act of terrorism that targeted innocent men, women and children.

The Tsunami in Thailand a few years later took even more innocent lives.

New Orleans took even more.

The question remains, however… have we learned anything from it? If 9/11, the Tsunami and the floods taught us anything, it’s that emergency planning isn’t something that only the government should do. Disaster can strike anywhere at any time and while we may all hope and pray that our families will stay safe, there are no guarantees.

While we may not always be able to stop disaster from striking, however, we can be prepared.

The American Association of Physician Specialists (AAPS) wants to help make that possible. Available on their website are a set of Tips on Preparing a Family Emergency Plan.

With the anniversary of 9/11 coming up tomorrow, this might be a great time to take the time to prepare and to be ready if disaster should strike you, your loved ones or even your workplace.