Tuesday, October 1, 2013


It pays to invite
Emergency Services
To visit facilities

An article on the NJ.com site hededcq Boardwalk's unique aspects challenge firefighters reminds that it pays to invite emergency service/public safety personnel – EMTs, fire, police – to participate in risk management planning.

In some instances, e.g., where HAZMAT is on site, this interface with public safety departments may be mandated by local law. In all cases, it is just (a) good business practice, (b) common sense, or (c), both. Failure to include emergency services is foolish and can be costly.

Inviting public safety personnel to visit facilities benefits the organization both in the immediate term and in the event of an “incident.”

NOTE: The follow bullets are NOT “all inclusive.”

Fire brigade:

  • Checks access and exit points to assure all personnel, including mobility impaired (that’s “PC” for handicapped and includes anything from inability to walk sans assistance to vision limitations to pregnancy); does the facility comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  • Checks for adequacy of fire suppression equipment (fire extinguishers, hoses, etc.) and training of personnel to use this equipment.
  • Checks to assure there are exit maps in prominent locations.
  • Checks and maps the location of electrical panels and shut-off switches.
  • Checks and maps the location of all hazardous materials, including cleaning materials that by themselves may be harmless but when combined may form a deadly or explosive gas.
  • May assist in setting up staff fire wardens, setting their functions, and identifying suitable equipment, e.g., short-range two-way radios, powerful flashlights, colorful clothing/head gear)


  • Are all areas where personnel – staff and visitors – congregate safe and well-lit; including parking areas?
  • Are doors and windows secure and alarmed?
  • Are facilities available to secure sensitive documents?
  • Are procedures for identification of staff and visitors, including vendors, in place?
  • Are security-related policies and procedures in place or at least being considered?


  • Checks for presence of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and training for most likely users.
  • Checks qualifications of first responders and trains if necessary.
  • Checks for suitable litters – are they “stair-friendly,” will they fit into an elevator?
  • Provide a list of recommended over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and other products (e.g., bandages, ointments) that should be on hand for minor emergencies, and trains personnel in their use.
  • Trains staff to recognize signs of stroke, heart attack, and other common medical events where early detection is critical.
  • Early warning signs of stroke and heart attack are given below.

One of the public service agencies, perhaps all, should help establish a procedure to notify the appropriate agency when help is needed. Do people call direct or, better, do people report an instance to a central number (e.g., reception, HR) so that whoever is on duty can (a) send a trained staff responder to assist and (b) call for emergency services.

It also is worthwhile to include insurance adjusters who also can help identify risks. Risk management is not a process that is done by one person.



  • Sudden confusion

  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, hand, or leg (especially on one side of the body)

  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes (such as double vision, blurred vision, or blindness)

  • Sudden trouble walking

  • Sudden dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Sudden loss of balance or coordination

  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

  • Vomiting

  • Seizures (in a small number of cases


  • Pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest

  • Jaw pain, toothache, headache

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or general epigastric (upper middle abdomen) discomfort

  • Sweating

  • Heartburn and/or indigestion

  • Arm pain (more commonly the left arm, but may be either arm)

  • Upper back pain

  • General malaise (vague feeling of illness)
  • No symptoms (approximately one quarter of all heart attacks are silent, without chest pain or new symptoms and silent heart attacks are especially common among patients with diabetes mellitus).


If I wrote it, you may quote it.

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