Biddle's Corner

Pre summer safety primer

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 14 May 2010 00:00

When asked how many days of school remain, most students and a representative number of teachers have an answer.   What is known is that the current school year is drawing to a close and this generates safety concerns by members of the Newtown Square Fire Company.

Read more: Pre summer safety primer


Safety is job one

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 06 May 2010 00:00

Two unyielding goals of the Newtown Square Fire Company continue to be key items within that organization’s budgeting and Fund Drive process.   Safety and security head the non-educational elements of the 94-year old public service organization outline for corporation spending.

Read more: Safety is job one


No one is immune from poison dangers

Written by L. James Biddle Sunday, 21 March 2010 00:00

While much of the attention for poison awareness has a focus upon children and the youth, there are two additional population segments that are prompting an increasing amount of attention.  In describing these two additional groups, the Newtown Square Fire Company’s Emergency Medical Advisor, Lisa Migliori stressed, “Adults are not immune from poisonings and the elderly are surprisingly prone to problems for a collection of reasons.”
One of the contributing factors in the poisoning of adults is attributed in part to their general life-style.  When analyzed, the type of poisoning can be classed as accidental.   The “how and why’ of this type of poisoning has been stated by many experts as the product of trying to fit too many activities into an already busy schedule.
“This type of impact results in the failure to properly read instructions as well as failure to heed the instructions on the prescription’s label,” cited Mrs. Migliori.  She added, “It only takes a small mistake to result in an overdose or a dangerous reaction.   Invest time to read and heed and live.”
Convenience, economics, relying upon past practices, and pre occupation all help elderly adults become poisoning statistics. “By adding the general topic of mistaken identity and most poisonings in the age group are covered.   When trying to read a label without the proper glasses or when reading in darkened room far too often results in an improper dosage or an incorrect prescription,” stressed the Fire Company Emergency Medical Advisor.
Other contributing factors to accidental poisonings in the elderly include the event when someone automatically reaches for a medication that has been moved only to pickup something else by mistake.
Because many persons in this age group generally use smaller quantities or they often share medicines, the elderly sometimes stores their medicines in something other than the original container.   This introduces an additional danger.  “If grandchildren visit, these alternate containers often are similar to those that can be mistaken by young visitor.   This creates the secondary problem of the accidental poisoning of young visitors, cautioned Mrs. Migliori.

Poisons and children

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 19 March 2010 00:00

Children and firefighters have a strong bond.   This youthful group within the population has traditionally been a strong focus for the safety training undertaken by the Newtown Square Fire Company. There is one area of safety where children along cannot be the target of this volunteer group’s special safety messages. Lisa Migliori, the Fire Company’s Emergency Medical Advisor explains, “Poison safety requires the special attention of the adults within the influence group of all children.”
As adults can easily relate, children in the age group of one to six years are natural explorers and mimics.  Statistics show many of the poison problems in this age category occur when children are exploring. This exploration comes from a child’s spilling, shaking, smelling, tasting and wiping of their hands on their skin or clothing.   These are the ways poisons come in contact with a child.
In explaining this danger, Mrs. Migliori adds, “This group of children has the highest fatality rate because of ingestion and the inability of newly developing organs to cope with a massive toxic exposure.  To combat this problem, adults must be extra careful in the storage and availability of poisonous substances.”
The Newtown Square firefighters join with national safety experts as they provide a primer of precautionary suggestions.  Proper recognition and storage, and never associating any medicine or other potentially poisonous substance as a food item, candy, or a parallel with other favorites of children are the first steps in avoiding exploration and possible sickness or death in this age group.
The second age group of children, ages five to 10, becomes another type of challenge.  The Newtown Square Fire Company’s Migliori reminds adults this age group is one that wants to become helpers. This new childish help occurs in the house, the garage, or in the yard.
Most accidental poisonings occur when children in this age group try to clean with the household products they see adults using. The increasing physical maturity may help in slowing, but not preventing the body’s responses to poison.  This does not translate to any avoidance in calling for help. 
Figures show that many poison cases in this age group have a slow “call for help” response because of social implication. Neither the child nor their adult family members want to make the necessary call to 9 1 1 because of embarrassment. .  Seconds count in all poison problems regardless of the age.  “Make the call to 9 1 1 as soon as there is an awareness of a possible or known poison problem,” stresses the Fire Company’s Medical Advisor.
In concluding this primer of child-poison safety, Mrs. Migliori adds, “Poisonous reactions can and must be prevented.  Remember that not all poison dangers come from ingestion.  Please practice special precautionary steps in these age groups.  Remember, poisoning can also result from inhalation and skin contact. With children, poison prevent is a steady and ongoing responsibility.  Never hesitate in getting professional help.  Always call 9 1 1 IMMEDIATELY.”


Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 12 March 2010 00:00

Thanks to the computer and the successful use of Search Engines, there can be found multiple identities for a theme for each month. A long-standing theme for month of March has a special meaning for members of the Newtown Square Fire Company.  The on-going theme embraced for this month deals with Poisons. 
While these volunteers point to the need to practice poison awareness every month, this year’s Poison Awareness month theme has a special meaning for one of the trained members. This topic applies to all age groups; with one special identity -- infants and children -- there is always a special emphasis.  This group demand special attention.
For one member of the Newtown Square Fire Company, the topic of infants and young children has a special impact.  In addition to Lisa Migliori’s status as the Emergency Medical Advisor for the Fire Company, this Delaware County Community College instructor also has a new reason to share the dangers of poisons. She and her husband Sam have just become grandparents of a granddaughter.
One question that can be a wake up effort is the following: What do the garage, a woman’s handbag, a bed stand, the kitchen sink area, the social area of the home, the garage, a man toiletry bag, multiple areas within the basement and other rooms have in common?
The answer to this partial list of locations is that each of them may house something that can be a poison to an infant, a child, an adult, the elderly, and family pets.
Many of the everyday items found at home, at work, or at play can become a poison. Some become dangerous in even small quantities. Others become dangerous if over used. Advisor Migliori added, “A few become dangerous when used in combination with other seemingly innocent items.”
Poison education cannot start at too young age.  The first step in this education is done by preventing curious hands from finding and obtaining access to poisons.  Since children mimic adults, a social, alcoholic beverage for an adult when copied by a child can prove to be sickening or fatal.  Pills look like candy.  In discussing this concept, Newtown Square’s Lisa Migliori stressed, “Avoid comparing any medicine to a candy or a treasured edible or drinkable treat.  This can promote unguided consumption of false candy items.”
Following the important steps of prevention, the second important ingredient in reversing the effects of poisons is the immediate call to 9 1 1.  This must be the first step.  The timely aid by trained professionals continues to be the best reversal activity.
Not all ingested poisons foster the once-universal step of promoting vomiting.   Eroding chemicals and those that can accelerate problems such as petroleum products must not become candidates for vomiting. These special poisoning characteristics are just a small contribution behind the necessity for an immediate call to 9 1 1. 
When in doubt, never second-guess.  Always call for the help of professionals. “Never try to driving a suspected poisoning victim to a hospital.  Victims of poisons need full and proper attention by trained personnel,” added Newtown Square’s Emergency Medical Advisor. 

Is your Smoke Detector still safe?

Written by L. James Biddle Sunday, 07 March 2010 00:00

With a winter that continues to find ways of reminding us how long it has been since our area has felt the happiness of a collection of warm days, it is hoped that spring may come sometime soon. There is one reality of a seasonal change is just around the corner.  One seasonal responsibility borne by the Newtown Square Fire Company is a safety reminder that is associated with the March 14, 2010 change to Daylight Savings Time.
As the clocks are advanced one hour at the 2 a.m. official early morning time, the local firefighters hope that everyone not only changed their clock before going to bed, they hope fresh batteries were placed in every Smoke Detector in the residence.
Firefighters are facing another serious concern.  While these volunteers strive to have Smoke Detectors properly cleaned, maintained, and “fed with fresh battery power,” there is another challenge these unpaid professionals face.  
Smoke Detectors do not have an indefinite lifetime.  The concern faced by firefighters is the threat the public will ignore the 10-year lifespan cited by safety experts.  These men and women do act properly and promptly when it comes time to properly discard and replace these trusted safety watchdogs.
How can someone tell if his or her Smoke Detector is too old to be safe trusted?  When cleaning and placing fresh batteries inside the family’s Smoke Detectors, look for a manufacture date.   The special date has been used for some years.  
Don’t live on borrowed time.  Replace all Smoke Detectors that are more ten years old. Newer models often include a ten-year battery.  In the future, this concept will in documenting a life span.  Never trust your life or the lives of your family to old, out-of-date safety protection from an aged and tired Smoke Detector.

Back to school

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 05 March 2010 00:00

A group of Newtown Square firefighters recently found themselves returning to school.  These visitations were not for academics, but instead these three visits with fire apparatus were for responses to fire dispatches.
The first response of this trio of calls to the Marple Newtown High School was a medical assist request by Riddle Hospital paramedic personnel. The boiler room location of the medical emergency resulted in this call for assistance. The stairs, while more than adequate for normal use, became a challenge when used for patient care transport.
This first hand familiarity with this lower level of the interior of the High School was beneficial in the second of the collection of dispatches to the Media Line Road campus on Monday, February 22.  This dispatch occurred during a simultaneous fire dispatch to Media. This call also validated the wisdom in the automatic response of the Broomall Fire Company during this morning, rush hour fire dispatch to the High School.  During this joint fire company response, Newtown Square apparatus was released from their Media response. They then diverted to the local emergency.
The investigation of the fire alarm activation found smoke in the same boiler , the site of the first of this series of school emergency calls.   Arriving fire apparatus was once more pleased at the site of an evacuated school building.  As Chief Doug Simpson stated following this call, the greatest concern of all emergency providers is always the safety of the occupants.
An investigation of the structure found the source of the traceable source of smoke was in the boiler room area.  The specific focus was the in the area providing access to the electrical room.   Contractor employees working on the renovation of the High School occupied this part of the service area. They also were looking for the source of alarm activation.
A Broomall hose line was advanced into the basement service area by a crew from Broomall as firefighters looked for the source of fumes that activated the fire alerting system was located. The exhaust fumes were found to be coming from a small diesel-powered excavating machine that was working in the below-grade area of the school loading dock was the source.
The machine operator was advised by fire officials to cease their operation until they could provide a method of a proper ventilation.
Chief Doug Simpson and Deputy Chief Mike Kenny have jointly commented on the ongoing cooperation demonstrated by school official.  “They are always visible to arriving apparatus and their brief, but informative description of their findings is an appreciated, time-saving help.”
The third dispatch to the High School occurred at approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 27.  A collection of diesel fumes that was collecting because of weather condition influences spawned this call. This discovery was made by the response crew of the Newtown Square Fire Company’s Rescue Unit. A check of the schools interior was done as an additional safety precaution. 
During the search, the firefighters found there was a slight, but in no way dangerous aroma in isolated parts of the school.  Additional evaluation tests found there was no danger and the fire apparatus was released. 

Eggs can be dangerous

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 25 February 2010 00:00

One of the winter events is to play indoors.  This form of recreation often includes a group of neighborhood or classroom friends. When there are young guests, food often becomes a part of the fun.   The Newtown Square Fire Company’s Emergency Medical Advisor Lisa Migliori Parents reminds parents and grandparents that the American Egg Board’s marketing slogan about the incredible, edible egg is not true for all children.
Not all children can tolerate eggs. One of the periodic reminders about egg allergies deals with some, but not all vaccines.  To the unknowing, vaccines can be developed from an egg host. If so, these vaccines are a threat to anyone allergic to eggs and egg products.  
Newtown Square Fire Company’s Migliori volunteered, “More common than the topic of eggs and vaccine concerns is the topic of food. The content of home prepared, made from specific ingredients meals is controllable. This is not true of packaged meals. Without the reading of a container’s label, knowledge of egg-based ingredients can be a challenge.”
Eating meals that are not home-cooked becomes an important concern for parents of children having an egg allergy.  “Please don’t hesitate to share with the parents of your child or children’s friends if there is a food allergy.  They will understand your concerns, as well as the needs of special food choices for guests,” added Mrs. Migliori as she discussed precautions to take when children visit their friends.
Recognizing the signs of reactions to an egg allergy is important.  They include a possible skin reaction of a rash or a reaction similar to the bumps of hives or some other onset rash.  An egg allergy can also result in stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Another indicator of an egg allergy involves the respiratory tract. Those symptoms can range from sneezing and a runny nose. A severe reaction of this nature is asthma with coughing and wheezing.
In concluding this egg allergy warning, the Newtown Square Fire Company’s Emergency Medical Advisor advised, “Any family member or guest that demonstrates these symptoms must be monitored.  If there is even a hint of a breathing problem, immediate medical help is a must. “
In describing the needs for medical treatment, Mrs. Migliori cited that driving anyone with this allergy response is not a family event. She stressed, “Call 9 1 1 and never try to transport in a personal vehicle.  Training, procedures, and medical assistance can be home-initiated with professionally trained EMS personnel. This benefit does not exist in family transport. “

Invest in your safety with a shovel

Written by L. James Biddle Saturday, 20 February 2010 00:00

While a snow covered landscape can appear as a peaceful picture, the same snow cover is a greatly feared threat to firefighters. In reviewing the recent storm activities, Newtown Square Deputy Fire Chief Mike Kenny stressed, “Fortunately we did not to have any large scale fire hydrant uses.  If we had, the great number of snow-buried hydrants would have been dangerous.”
The amount of the two, recent back-to-back snowfalls quickly buried all but a few of the life- and property-saving area fire hydrants.  The amount of snow has unfortunately continued to bury many of these valuable sources of water.  What nature did not cover, the snow plowing required to make streets and roads passable often finished the unwanted disappearance of area fire fighting hydrants.
The Newtown Square Fire Company has extended its gratitude to the appreciated, all-but-too-few residents who invested their time and energies to answer the seasonal call to unbury their nearby fire hydrant.   In doing this caring activity, they have help reduce any delays in firefighting.  It is no secret to firefighters that all fires double in size in very short periods of time.  Equally recognized by the Newtown Square firefighters is their desire to begin extinguishing a fire as quickly as possible.
As one seasoned firefighting veteran stressed, “The time taken to locate a buried hydrant, remove the snow, and then make the necessary supply hose connection can make the difference between life and death.”
The on-board water in fire apparatus is always a welcomed, initial supply of water in firefighting, but the addition of water from a fire hydrant is also necessary. In describing the need for a dependable water source, Chief Doug Simpson added,” we hope that everyone will look for and begin to pay more attention to their nearby fire hydrant.  Having this water available is an essential part of saving lives and property. Please don’t wait for a neighbor; you become the neighborhood hero.”

Is your home lost?

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 19 February 2010 00:00

The Newtown Square Fire Company has noticed an unexpected problem that came with the record-setting snowfalls of February.  In what may sounded like a bit of humor, Chief Doug Simpson volunteered, “Far too many of our residents have lost their identity.”
Chief Simpson when on to explain this unusual statement. He cited that the large amount of snowfall has created a problem along many township roadways that have post-mounted, rural-type mailboxes.  This snow, along with the additional roadside snow added with the natural plowing practices has covered two of the traditional address locations.
An unsafe, yet common practice that uses metal numbers located on the supporting posts provides no number reference is visible when the post is covered by snow. “With the loss of this type of identity, along with the loss of other neighboring address numbers because of this snow, homes with this type of number identification are really difficult to locate. For some period of time during any emergency response, they are really ‘lost,’ “ added Chief Simpson.
Other address problems that have been a long-standing concern for emergency responders is a general, lack of efficient numbering on mailboxes and homes in non-rural areas of Newtown Township.  The Township some time ago established standards for identification.  Numbers are to be a minimum of 4-inches high and 2-1/2 –inches wide. To add one more bit of assistance to police, fire, and EMS responders, these numbers are most noticeable when they are reflective.
Newtown Square’s fire chief has also requested that all building mounted addresses be located so they can be easily seen from the street or highway.   Trees, bushes, and other obstacles often hide building numbers. 
Chief Simpson has also stressed that emergency responders do not always approach a location from the same direction as postal vehicles.  He acknowledged that far too many people place their addresses on only one side of the post-mounted mailboxes.  For prompt responses, these numbers must be placed on both sides.
Calling 9 1 1 is the second step when there is an emergency. The first step is making sure your location can be found day and night, as well as in all kids of weather.  “Proper number is that first step,” added Chief Simpson.  

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