Biddle's Corner

Stroke - Grab The Phone

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 03 September 2015 12:04

The health and quality of life was maintained for an Aston Township area Realtor because of his memory of a newspaper story written by a current Newtown Square firefighter when both lived in southeastern Delaware County. This recalled story provided an advisory minimizing the body’s potential responses to a stroke.  The strongest memory of this story was the phrase, “If there is a suspected stroke, always grab the phone and forget grabbing the keys.”

Feeling his speech had become slurred, the stroke-stricken Realtor summoned his wife.   What she heard and saw prompted her to reach for her pocket book that held her car keys.  She was preparing to take husband, whom she suspected was having a stroke, to the hospital.   His memory of his youthful fire company’s Stroke Instructions were quickly shared with his wife. Instead of driving him to a hospital, he asked her to use the phone and call the Delaware County’s 9 1 1 Center.

In minutes, the Advanced Life Support crew arrived and, following a brief examination, meds were administered and the patient was transported to the hospital.  The early observations and the correct emergency choices were effective ingredients in a prompt return to normal activities.

The Newtown Square Fire Company asks its community to remember the simple instruction suggested by the word F.A.S.T. This verbiage becomes an important, key tool of recovery.  The lessons of F.A.S.T. become a way to remember the sudden signs and symptoms of a stroke or a TIA—a form of a mini stroke.

Face Drooping

Arm Weakness

Speech Difficulty

Time to call 9 1 1

Newtown Square Fire Company EMS-trained personnel have added there may be additional signs of a stroke. They include the following-- sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, unexplained trouble walking, dizziness, lack of balance or coordination, and a sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof urges remembering the simple instruction. “Grab the phone, not the keys.”  The trained medical attention and appropriate medicines during the home visit and the hospital travel are the key steps in minimizing any residual effects of a stroke.


Back to School Healthy

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 18 August 2015 12:02

For many people July and August becomes a time for advertised “Back to School Specials.” For college-bound students, this is time of the year spells the end of summer and possibly a trip to a distant campus.  These students may need some guidance or help in selecting items to take to school. Other students are returning as veterans. Lisa Migliori, a retired Newtown Square Assistant Chief--EMS, has assisted in creating a short list of health items for both groups of students.

Based upon experiences, the number one item of this list continues to be a thermometer. “What type?” is a common response to this suggestion. Then, as now, the answer is, “Use the type used at home. Familiarity helps in its use.”

Other items included in retired Assistant Chief Migliori’s list of simple, off-to-school health items may include antihistamines, decongestants, cough medicine, and throat lozenges. A small collection of the salt packets used at fast food restaurants and a glass of warm water can combine to help irritated, sore throats.

Include a surprise selection of soothing herbal teas. They can be helpful for colds or the stresses of school.

This list of items should include pain relievers for overexertion, headaches, or menstrual cramps. The inclusion of these items may save the student a trip to the “never-nearby” pharmacy.

For scrapes and cuts, other former members of the Newtown Square Fire Company’s , local emergency medical group suggest alcohol for surface cleaning wounds and then hydrogen peroxide or antibiotic creams for preventing infections. The packed ‘cure’ items should also include a collection of adhesive bandages.

A college environment often results in eating almost anytime, anywhere, or anything. A long-proven help for dietary problems are antacids in liquid, tablet, or chewable forms. The Newtown Square firefighters stress, “Experience has demonstrated that whatever works at home should work equally well when away from home.”

Despite a possible reluctance, tweezers may prove to be invaluable for removing splinters, insect stingers, or deer ticks. Also include an anti-itch lotion. This soothing item can create welcomed comfort for bites, poison ivy, or rashes.

There is no better time for family communications than when there is the departure of a student for school. Asking for parental help or guidance will prove to be a healthy help-item.

Another important communications, one with an early priority when arriving on campus is the investing of a few moments to locate the school’s Health Center.  Provide them with health records and any special medical concerns, a list of all prescribed medicines, and over-the-counter medicines before any possible illness or emergency occurs. As a special reminder, Newtown Square’s former EMS leader added, “Don’t forget to list any allergies that your student may have.”

In concluding this partial list of school-health suggestions, the Newtown Square firefighters collectively added, “Hopefully, the home-borne habit of hand washing also goes off to school with the student.  Leaving home and living in a school environment can create many differing challenges.  By being prepared for illness and accidents is one way to help limit any away-from-home problems. Taking a little bit of home to school is always a good help in both cures and prevention.”

There are two very special items that should also accompany the student to college.  A small flashlight may have both medical and safety uses.  If there has been some hesitation in obtaining some form of medical alert jewelry, now is the time to make that purchase. Parents who have traditionally been nearby to share helpful health information will not be going to college with the student.


Good Safe Beginning

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 11 August 2015 13:25

Parents, drivers, and students have been invited by the Newtown Square firefighters in the pre-school year plans.  In a recent surprise, impromptu poll of elementary students by one of the volunteer firefighters yielded a collection of surprises.  When asked if they were looking forward to returning to school, an impressive percentage answered they are ready for their classroom experiences

The Newtown Square Fire Company hopes the area drivers are beginning their own plans for the school-based changes in their driving practices.  In case drivers are unaware of how soon schools will be beginning, one possible reminder may the early reappearance of school buses.  Many schools prepare for the school year by having bus drivers learning new routes or new drivers preparing for their driving role for this school year.

Before the school year begins, drivers are encouraged to start their own preparations. A simple safety precaution encourages allotting sufficient time during personal morning and afternoon drives. Newtown Square Deputy Chief George Guyer IV suggests starting early and being fully aware of student taking short cuts to “make the bus” as the return to school patterns.

Safety is a TEAM EFFORT. Parents must remember to provide ongoing suggestions in student safety.  Children must understand there are real dangers from careless behaviors.  Drivers must cooperate by constantly being “on the lookout” for dashing, dreaming, and distracted school students.  Deputy Chief Guyer added, “One way for drivers to practice their responsibilities is avoid their own distractions of texting and other activities that provide challenges to safe driving.

The best introduction to a new school year is starting school with safety.

Late Summer Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Wednesday, 05 August 2015 21:20

August is a month where the number of days before schools reopen is counted and the hopes of extending the enjoyment of the earlier summer continue.  Included in the recreational enjoyment is the continuing of an American favorited pastime--outdoor cooking. Much of the annual summer safety concerns have had the focus of gas-fired cooking.  As the warm weather continues, the Newtown Square Fire Company reminds these traditional amateur chefs of some of the precautions when cooking with charcoal.

For those outdoor cooks who continue to use charcoal for the cooking, this is the time to review long-established, safety precautions. In this cooking safety reminders, Chief Doug Everlof stressed, “Unless special steps are taken starting a charcoal fire has a many dangers.”

When cooking with charcoal, the backyard chef must remember charcoal is “sneaky.” Until the briquette begins to goal, there is a danger that is associated with impatience. The local firefighters remind cooks to avoid the temptation of trying to accelerate the establishing of a proper cooking fire by making a second application of starter fluid.  This can become an explosive event.

The hidden heat in one or more briquettes can ignite this new application of the petroleum liquid.  In a flash-back of fire that travels up the stream of lighting fluid to the container is extremely dangerous. This results in an explosion or a flash of uncontrolled fire. “Begin by initially applying the proper amount of fluid before attempting to initially start the cooking fire,” urged Chief Everlof.

Equally dangerous cooking problems occur during the cooking as well as after the meal are prepared. Never cook inside a garage or under an overhead porch or deck. The carbon monoxide from cooking can enter the home and become a potent killer. The local firefighter add the heat from cooking inside a garage can ignite fumes from stored items,

Charcoal dangers continue after the meal preparation. Each year, firefighters are called to fires starting from the unsuspected heat left in what were thought to be “dead briquettes.” After the outdoor cooking, safely deposit the used charcoal in a metal, not a plastic container; then leave it alone. Water in the container is an added safety step.

Burying spent charcoal that has been started with a petroleum fluid is very environmentally dangerous act.

Newtown Square’s fire chief advised outdoor cooks a good meal must include in its ingredients, a healthy dose of safety. He added, “Enjoy your outdoor charcoal cooking, but please do it safely.”


Show Your Numbers

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 24 July 2015 10:29

Just as everyone has a name, buildings—residences, businesses, and apartments—all have assigned address.  There many ways a person’s name is recorded and recognized. There is no parallel with addresses. Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof commented, “There are required methods of addresses, yet occupants or commercial owners don’t follow the Township’s standards.”

The Newtown Square Fire Company is familiar with landmarks and the names of the far too many un-numbered structures, what if another emergency service provider is providing “cover up protection?”  These visiting helpers must respond by depending upon posted address numbers.

Without adequately posted building numbers, there could be a delay in services by visiting fire or EMS.

During a daytime or nighttime tour of the streets and roads in Newtown Township there is a common, dangerous observation.  Far too many commercial, government entities, churches, recreational facilities, and homes lack appropriate addresses

A digest of the Newtown Township Codes states the minimum requirements for the building numbering standards says identifying numbers must be a minimum height of 4inches high and a minimum width of one-half inch wide.   Additionally, these numbers must contrast with their supporting background.

In adding a collection of others suggested, Chief Doug Everlof, stressed, “The numbers are an important help to local and standards assisting emergency crews.  Their location must be easily seen from the street and numbers. Reflective numbers contribute an even greater impact”.

Also, any commercial locations having alley access are reminded to post the address on the alley entrances.  This can be help for fire fighters when their response patterns often include access to the rear of businesses as well as to the front.

Newtown Square’s Fire Chief added, “Remember to trim plants and bushes. As they grow, they can hide the numbers.  If former, existing numbers need to be replaced, please DO IT NOW.”

The rural type, post mounted, road side postal boxes, create an even greater challenge to all emergency service personnel. Because the fire, police, and EMS responders do not always travel in the same direction as the post office vehicles, the same size numbers should be posted on both sides of these rural type mail boxes.  Lacking street lig illumination, these numbers should be the reflecting type.

While many people have elected to pay the price to have an unlisted telephone number, the cost for having an unseen address could be priceless.  The Fire Company asks for the cooperation to have all properties adequately identified. “Don’t wait!  Please do this NOW,” stressed Chief Everlof.

Neighborly Based Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Wednesday, 15 July 2015 16:33

There are both personal and neighborhood benefits to the simple, safety-based task of removing the collected debris from a storm drain located near homes.  This suggestion is traditionally one offered in the autumn. The fallen leaves and twigs, along with possible small branches can easily begin a natural dam at the street drains.   Unless removed, this dam can produced unexpected flooding.

Following a recent, sleep-awakening wind and rain storm and its effects on trees, Newtown Square Assistant Fire Chief Joe Certo shared a community plea, “During an exercise walk—either for pet or personal exercise—please pay attention to these often forgotten drains.  If dammed, these closed drains can quickly provide standing water. “

Standing water at a stop-sign equipped intersection can alter stopping distances and contribute to other unexpected problems.  A local firefighter related how. When his car was forced to the curb-edge of a local street by an improperly driven car, the combination of even reduced driving speed, the air flow from the engine’s fan and the water splashed from driving through the standing water of unknown depth forced the vehicle’s serpentine belt off its collection of pulleys.

With the loss of power, both braking and steering were dangerously altered. Similarly affected were the vehicle’s engine cooling and the generating of electricity.  The vehicle was soon not drivable.

The few minutes required collecting and removing storm drain debris is more than neighborly.  This simple task can help in reducing or eliminating preventable dangers and problems—invest a small amount of effort and gain a large amount of personal satisfaction.


Summer Travel Safety Hints

Written by L. James Biddle Wednesday, 15 July 2015 14:33

Summer is a time when families often “take to the road.”  These travels may have grandchildren visiting grandparents and other “older” family members.  The Newtown Square Fire Company shares a reminder--when a child is visiting, safety may have to take on a new meaning.

While parents have installed “safety inserts” on the home electric outlets, this practice may not have been done by grandparents and other hosting senior family members. Chief Doug Everlof stresses, “To assure young visitor safety, the small investment to purchase and installation of these simple safety items helps assure no young minds and fingers will be tempted to play with receptacles away from home.”

While senior family members may have the practice of placing their medicines in convenient and memory-jogging locations, this habit must be changed with curious children arrive.  The natural curiosity of children, when fueled by easy access, can become ingredients for a dangerous “eating” of what may appear to be candy.

The natural vision paths of an adult are far about the sight levels of children. Newtown Square’s fire chief volunteered, “One way to help assure possible dangers are identified and removed is to inspect the living area of the entire living area from the level of a child.”

If loving grandparents and other senior family members want to take young visitor to a treat, any trip in a car must be done with the installation and use of a child-protecting safety seat or restrain device.  Even the shortest travel without this mandated method of safety travel is both dangerous and not legal.

Grandparents and all caring senior family members must ignore the temptation to think, ”We didn’t have to do these things when our children were younger!” Times and regulations foster by current research have created these safety steps.

If the family vacation includes hotel/motel visits, a “handful” of electric safety inserts and a family’s portable night light used in a bathroom all contribute to travel, vacation safety.

To help assure there is fun in the activities of “Summer Fun,” the Newtown Square Fire Company reminds all family members, “Safety must never take a vacation.”

Ramp Repair and Fund Drive Appeal

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 10 July 2015 10:20

The residents of Newtown Township, as well as the day-visitors working in the community, are being given the opportunity to see a rare, expensive, and currently necessary event.   Just as the 2015 Newtown Square Fire Company is mailing the annual funding request, the local firefighters are undertaking the expensive, yet necessary project in the front of the local fire station.

The fire station’s ramp—the short, but important “roadway” between the interior storage of the organization’s emergency apparatus and the driving surface of PA 252—was close to total deterioration. It was beyond any more quilt-like patching.

In describing this necessary project, Newtown Square Fire Company President Josh Potter stressed, “The local volunteer firefighters are hoping when people see this project they will provide funding help.  When they think of their own driveway, sidewalk or curb projects they will appropriately respond with a generous response to this year’s Fund Drive appeal.”

This project is being completed in several stages.  The existing concrete in each segment is first demolished, removed and the ground prepared for the delivery of the concrete.  This produces a surface that is capable of withstanding the daily activities of fire and emergency responses.  Not to be forgotten is the necessary delay for the curing of the cement.

The firefighters have had to make some changes in the storage patterns with the aging fire station. The interior parking has had to be altered to provide “close parking.”  This is necessary so all the apparatus can respond via one half the ramp footprint during each stage of the work.

The local firefighters ask when residents pass the Newtown Square Fire Station, their memories of this necessary fire station upkeep will motivate a generous response to the Newtown Square Fire Company Fund Drive.

Newtown Square FireFoto/Guyer: Shown at the top is the replaced, ready-for-use section of the cement project at the Newtown Square Fire Company.  The lower segment, the better portion of deteriorated “driveway, is awaiting the process of demolition, removal and replacement. When this second section is cured, the emergency response patterns will return to normal.


Steps For a Safe Summer Vacation

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 03 July 2015 11:07

The men and women staffing the Newtown Square Fire Company, an organization nearing 100 years of protecting residents, local workers, and other people who may be “passing through” the Newtown Square area share a common thought. They know safety should never take a vacation.  Summer continues to be a favorite time for vacations.  Season vacations are common this time of the year and the local firefighters have offered some valuable reminders

The first steps for a safe vacation begin at home long before departing. Both the vehicle and drivers must be capable of withstanding the demands of a long trip. Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof asks vacationers to remember, “Taking a vacation at a different location does not mean forgetting the ‘at home’ safety practices.”

Vacation plans must also include an adequate supply of all prescription medicines and proper sunburn preventive lotions and lip balm.  Protection practices also add an often-forgotten safety suggestion, “Also make sure wearing proper sunglasses. This helps in preventing sun damage to the eyes.”

While enjoying a driving vacation, avoid the fatigue produced by avoidable, late-night driving.  If travel plans change or if the driver becomes lost, seek directions only at a well-populated store or travel stop.

Avoid the possibility of having money or other values stolen by placing them in a locked facility at the hotel.  Also, lock all empty suitcases; this prevents them from being used as a way to remove any unattended items that may be left unsecured in the room.  Before leaving the vacation lodging, ask if there are any areas in town that should be visited and equally important, those areas that should be avoided.

The rules of water safety established for swimming pools, rivers, lakes, and the ocean should never be relaxed.  Only swim at approved locations and never disobey common sense and “locally established rules of safety

In discussing the enjoyment of a summer vacation, Chief Doug Everlof volunteered, “When your vacation is over, the only stressful memories should be those experienced while playing arcade- or carnival-games.”

Fundraising and Eating

Written by L. James Biddle Wednesday, 24 June 2015 00:00

The Newtown Square Fire Company, in borrowing a theme from the region’s Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio fund raising efforts, has accepted the neighborly invitation of UNO Chicago Grill for the local community protector’s fund raiser.  As in previous UNO offerings, the Newtown Square Fire Company will receive 20% (excluding tax and tip) of the all-day eating with the use of a Dough Rai$er Voucher while enjoying the day long meals on Wednesday June 24, 2015.

The important Dough Rai$er Voucher is available at the Newtown Square Fire Company’s Website— Through the computer magic of “highlight and print” and a healthy lunch, mid-day snack, dinner, or a late evening snack, Fire Company supporters will enjoy good food and fellowship. At the same time, they will be supporting the emergency activities that are nearing 100 years of daily life- and protective- services and public safety education.

In discussing this enjoyable fundraising event, Deputy Chief George Guyer IV commented, “Thanks to member Sue Conlin—she negotiated and coordinated this even—we are once again looking forward to having a way to thank the community for their support. Not only do we need the funds, we and our neighbors will enjoy good eating.”

Through this 4th Semi Annual UNO fund raising activity, everyone will benefit. The food, enjoyed by everyone, is a part of a win-win-win opportunity. When armed with an appetite, participate through a UNO phone order (610-353-8667), online ordering (, and pickup or eat-in meals at UNOs, 3910 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square.




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