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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Opioid Resources

The opioid epidemic continues to expand in Minnesota. There are news stories almost daily about the number of fatal overdoses—including a recent article about the increasing number of children in emergency foster care due to their parents’ addiction, and another about the number of fatal overdoses in one metro county. This is not existing in a vacuum and it is not static. 

Meth overdoses and seizures are also at an all-time level and—while we are seeing improvement in the prescription side of the opioid problem—heroin and illegal fentanyl overdoses and fatalities continue to rise. We know that some of you are in the middle of this crisis and others are on the edge. Here are some resources to share with your staff:

  • The League has a new webpage to assist cities and public safety responders in getting more information about the opioid epidemic in Minnesota. The site will be updated with new information and resources as they become available. 
  • The Minnesota Department of Health, (MDH), has made their Opioid Dashboard the source to visit for what is happening with the Minnesota opioid epidemic. It is full of current information and training resources.
  • “Fentanyl: The Real Deal” is a training video that I highly recommend for all first responders. It runs about six minutes and is endorsed by nearly all of the national public safety associations.
  • The video is paired with written guidance entitled Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
  • An Opioid Information Session is scheduled for February 7 in Bloomington. It is free, sponsored by the League, and open to the entire public safety community. 

Up next: An Early Look at the 2019 Safety and Loss Control Workshops

Stay safe,

Monday, December 17, 2018

Report: U.S. Firefighting Injuries in 2017

Firefighters are more likely to be injured
on the fire ground, according to NFPA data.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released their report on U.S. firefighting injuries in 2017. The report looks at all firefighter injuries based on the type of duty the firefighter was performing when the injury occurred.

Overall injuries were down 5 percent from the previous year and at the lowest number since 1981 when NFPA first began analyzing this data.

The report states, “firefighters were more likely to be injured at fire ground operations than at other types of duties.” The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, (LMCIT) data has a few more categories for fire ground injuries, but it continues to be where most of our firefighter injuries occur as well, and it is also where most of our work comp cost is incurred. The report cites overexertion or strain and “falls, jumps and slips” as the leading nature of fire ground injuries. Again, the LMCIT has a few different categories but this aligns with our trends.

Eighteen firefighters died in vehicle-related incidents in 2017 according to the national data, including 10 who were struck by vehicles and eight who died in vehicle crashes. Ten fatalities due to being struck is unusually high, as the average for the past 30 years is four per year. While the numbers are small it speaks to the increasing dangers of responding to incidents on the roads and highways.

The discussion of the correlation of fire ground injuries with the number of fires the department responded to made sense. However I did not expect the rate of fire ground injuries to change so dramatically based on the population size protected. From the report, “the difference in risk of injury per firefighter is 8 to 1 between communities of 1,000,000 and communities of 2,500 to 4,999.” One of the factors impacting this is larger departments attend 572 times as many fires as small departments.

The report concludes with this challenge: “A risk management system and the application of existing technology, however, can offer options to reduce present injury levels and bring about corresponding reductions that are recommended by NFPA that could be taken at the local level.”

Read the NFPA report: United States Firefighter Injuries 2017

Up Next: Opioid information.

Stay Safe,


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The “21-Foot Principle” Clarified

I encourage all police use-of-force instructors to view the new video from the Utah Attorney General’s Office on the “21-Foot Principle.” The video is hosted by Ken Wallentine, chief of the West Jordan Utah Police Department and former chief of law enforcement for the Utah Attorney General. He discusses the distance and time needed for an officer to overcome the “reactionary gap.” For many of us the principle has been incorrectly taught as the “21-Foot Rule.”

Wallentine provides some background on reaction time and explains the unintended consequences of inattentional blindness and tunnel vision. He also covers the “OODA Loop” —the concept of “Observe, Orient, Decide and Act” that officers go through when they detect a threat. The information and data on officers’ movements and subjects’ movements is insightful. This includes a demonstration of an officer’s ability to move backward, or make that, limited ability to move backward, in an attempt to put distance between themselves and the subject.

21 feet and the “reactionary gap.” The
"21-Foot Principle" is intended to be considered
with the totality of circumstances facing an officer.
Wallentine interviews retired Salt Lake City Lt. and Firearms Instructor Dennis Tueller, who provides the history of the 21-Foot Principle and how it was formulated in response to an officer’s question while they were at the shooting range. Tueller stresses this was never intended to be a rigid rule but rather a consideration to be factored into the totality of the circumstances facing the officer. Part of his message is for officers to apply this concept preventatively to increase safety. 

Toward the end of the 17-minute video they continue that theme as they talk about being prepared, moving off line, creating distance when possible and identifying what could serve as cover if the officer needs it. I was not familiar with the phrase “Where’s my tree?” but I like it. It is a phrase they use in training to teach officers to look for cover well before
they need it.

If it sounds like there is a lot of material here, there is. I have watched the video numerous times, and I am still processing all the material they covered.

Watch on YouTube: 21 foot Principle Clarified by Dennis Tueller and Ken Wallentine

Up Next: Some interesting LMCIT statistics.

Stay safe,