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Monday, August 21, 2017

Ford to Repair U.S. Police Vehicles Following Carbon Monoxide Concerns - A Guest Blog by LMCIT Loss Control Field Service Manager Joel Muller

Headlines like this may be causing concern if your police department has these vehicles in its fleet. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas which can be deadly. Exposure to elevated levels of carbon monoxide can include headache, dizziness, weakness, vision problems, sleepiness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

In a statement issued by Ford Motor Company, the organization said it believes the cause of the problem may be tied back to the after-market installation of various police equipment. Ford believes that improperly sealed holes caused by these installations may be the source of carbon monoxide leaking back into the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also investigating and has been looking to determine how widespread issues with the Ford Explorer SUVs may be. The agency recently expanded its investigation into 1.3 million Explorers from model years 2011-2017.

So what can you do while this investigation is still pending? If you have a Ford SUV in your police fleet, or if your Fire Department has them in theirs, check inside the cab for carbon monoxide levels.

Guest blogger/LMCIT Loss Control
Field Service Manager Joel Muller
Carbon monoxide detectors are readily available at most retail stores. A typical household carbon monoxide detector can be used for this purpose, but they are somewhat bulky. Another option is a carbon monoxide monitor, which is the size of a standard key fob. Some models may plug into a power port on the vehicle dash, eliminating the need for a battery. There are various manufacturers of these units, which can be easily found online. Your fire department may also already have this equipment.

If the alarm on one of these units does sound, you may want to consider blood testing the officer for elevated levels of carbon monoxide. The table below will provide some guidance as to when blood testing for the officer should be considered:

Level of CO        Health Effects and Other Information
0 PPM                 Normal, fresh air
9 PPM                 Maximum recommended indoor CO level (ASHRAE)
10-24 PPM          Possible health effects with long-term exposure
25 PPM               Max TWA exposure for 8-hour workday (ACGIH)
50 PPM               Maximum permissible exposure in workplace (OSHA)

For additional information on this issue, see the links below: 

Up next: EMAC—The Best Way to Avoid the Complex Liabilities of Self-Deployment

Stay safe,

Friday, August 11, 2017

Focus on Changing the Culture—Addressing EMS Provider Stress and Mental Health

The Burnsville Fire Department is changing their
culture on responder stress and mental health.
That’s the title of a Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS)-sponsored webinar that features Burnsville’s Fire Chief BJ Jungmann and Assistant Fire Chief Brian Carlson. The presentation is more of a conversation, as the chiefs talk about the lessons learned after Chief Carlson began to struggle with a mental health problem. While the overall lesson was a focus on changing the department culture, they did have some specific recommendations.

Some of those included the topics of:

  • Training
  • Having good intentions
  • Preparing for worst-case scenarios
  • Always communicating
  • Expecting and dealing with the fear of the unknown
  • Knowing the work comp process and having a plan
  • Providing leadership 
  • Having a return-to-work program

This topic (and the recommendations included in the webinar) aligned with last spring’s workshop session on mental health, and we will be making this topic a priority for the next year as well. I extend a huge thank you to BJ and Brian for sharing their story and for their dedication to this important topic.

You can find and view the JEMS webinar here.

Up next: Help With the Audit of Automated License Plate Readers

Stay safe,