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  1. #1
    Forum Member laddercompany's Avatar
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    Exclamation Flu Pandemic? Are emergency crews ready?

    IAFF Takes Steps to Protect Members In a Flu Pandemic

    May 15, 2006 – The Bush administration’s recent release of its plan outlining the nation’s response to pandemic flu makes it clear that fire fighters and paramedics need to do all they can to prepare for an outbreak. To help its affiliates, the IAFF has developed policy and operational recommendations that include proposals for both the United States and Canada, as well as guidelines for state, provincial and local IAFF affiliates involved in policy and planning at the grassroots level. The IAFF has developed a new online learning tool, “Influenza Pandemic: What First Responders Need to Know About Avian Flu,” to help fire fighters and paramedics prepare before a flu outbreak.

    “With the threat of a human-to-human outbreak of the avian flu escalating, our challenge as all-hazard emergency responders is to prepare now, before the flu reaches pandemic proportions,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger.

    The IAFF recommendations include federal policy proposals for both the United States and Canada, as well as guidelines for state, provincial and local IAFF affiliates involved in policy and planning at those levels. In addition, the IAFF offers operational suggestions for all fire fighters and emergency medical personnel in the event of an influenza pandemic outbreak, along with full background information and additional research resources.

    Click here for a complete checklist of operational recommendations and additional background information.

    The U.S. National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza – published in November – establishes priority lists for who should receive vaccines or prophylactic and antiviral medications. On both these lists, fire fighters are listed separately from – and lower in priority than – emergency medical personnel. In both the United States and Canada, fire service personnel are considered emergency medical personnel and therefore, must be reflected as such in the priority list. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has recognized the need for fire fighter and emergency medical personnel to be first on the list to receive vaccination. At the IAFF Legislative Conference in March 2006, Chertoff stated to IAFF members that “… any vaccines or antiviral drugs are [to be] made available to our responders so our responders are able to continue their work, even in the middle of an emergency … you can't ask people to go out and save lives if you don’t give them the tools to make sure they are able to conduct these activities without putting their own lives unnecessarily at risk.”

    Because fire fighters and emergency medical personnel will be called on to respond to this potential national emergency, federal funds must be made available to ensure that IAFF members have the proper training and personal protective equipment, especially proper respirators, to respond safely and effectively.

    The U.S. National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza also puts much of the responsibility for planning for a pandemic response on state and local agencies. In Canada, provincial and city governments will also have significant responsibility. While several stakeholder groups are included in the Strategy, the fire service is not. Both federal governments must require fire service involvement in all pandemic planning that occurs under the auspices of a national strategy.

    In addition, there is confusion regarding which federal agency is responsible for preparing for and responding to a pandemic flu. Many agencies play a role, but it is unclear which agency is the lead. The IAFF is calling for the appointment of a single agency to manage preparedness and emergency response efforts for all infectious disease pandemics.

    Fire fighters and emergency medical personnel who are injured or die as a result of receiving the flu vaccine or any prophylactic or antiviral treatment should be considered to be injured or killed in the line of duty. Because receiving these treatments is voluntary, it may be possible for local governments to claim that such illnesses are not job-related. The federal government needs to address this problem.

    As it has done in previous health emergencies, the U.S. Congress has granted vaccine manufacturers immunity from lawsuits in order to encourage faster development of new vaccines. But unlike past efforts, Congress did not also create a compensation fund for those harmed by vaccines. A compensation fund should be established in both the United States and Canada for first responders harmed by the vaccine.

    “The IAFF will continue with legislative efforts to provide a fair compensation system – such as the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund – to assist our members and their families who may be injured from receiving the vaccine or coming into contact with someone who received it,” says President Schaitberger. Vaccine manufacturers and those who administer it have been offered immunity from liability through recent Homeland Security legislation.

    An Influenza pandemic could potentially result in widespread illness and death around the world. Because all disasters and emergencies are dealt with locally, each local fire and emergency medical department must collaborate with its local government, public health department and community stakeholders to devise a plan of action.

    The recent hurricane disasters illustrate the need for planning and preparation for effective and efficient response in an emergency. Some localities already have task forces established or are in the process of putting them together and developing their plans. It is critical for IAFF affiliates to have representatives on these task forces to ensure that policy and care delivery models are developed with first responders’ concerns at the forefront.

    IAFF affiliates should also work to ensure that any member who experiences any adverse reaction from the vaccine be provided with immediate medical and follow-up care at no cost to the fire fighter. Furthermore, any fire fighter or emergency medical personnel who has an adverse reaction to the vaccine and is unable to perform his or her duties should be entitled to receive occupational disability benefits as provided by the employer for on-duty injuries or illnesses for the duration of the disability. Any leave of absence associated with an adverse reaction should be immediately classified and treated as a line-of-duty injury and all medical costs associated with the vaccination and adverse reaction treatment must be borne by the employer.

    The IAFF encourages IAFF affiliates to use the federal policy guidelines above to ensure that their members’ issues are taken into consideration at every level of government, as well as to prepare to deal with new issues as they come up – issues not previously dealt with but which need to be considered.

    For example, if an outbreak of pandemic flu were to occur and mass inoculations needed among the general public, the best delivery system may be for trained fire fighters and emergency medical personnel to provide such vaccinations, and their fire departments and fire stations serve as inoculation centers. Attempting to deliver such a mass inoculation through hospitals or local health departments that are not available on a 24/7 basis could be a miserable failure and harm their ability to treat what would already be an extremely high load of patients during an outbreak.


  2. #2
    Forum Member DaSharkie's Avatar
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    More sucking from the Washington tit it seems. The feds need to pay for local issues. The feds need to tell us what to do. The feds, the feds, the feds......Cities, counties, states, and their respecitve agencies need to be able to handle this on thier own. It will take the federal government at least 48 hours to get anything to you, a la Katrina. You are on your own and you, as an individual provider, an individual agency, an individual system need to prepare and account for this.

    Nothing, I say again - NOTHING can be done to prevent this from occuring. It will be like past epidemics & pandemics regarding influenza. A few cycles of the disease and it will die out on its own accord - with no rhyme or reason, it just goes away.

    There is no therapy or treatment for it. The touting of Tamiflu and its similar medications as treatment is bunk. You need to initiate therapy within 24-48 hours of initiation of symptoms and it is only effective (and this is a depbatable term) at reducing morbidity by 1 day in studies. Add to that the issue that it appears that the virus has become resistant (if it was ever even succeptable) to these therapies which were not even curative in the first place.

    The only thing that can reduce or minimize the spread and acquisition of the disease is good old common handwashing - hardly something worthy of needing the federal government for is it?

    Perhaps we could add a little old face mask to our protective measures.

    We are going to be on our own and we need to accept that. No plan, no design, no person is going to change that.

    IF, and that is a mighty big IF at this point, it begins then multiple states will have this issue occur and it will spread rapidly (hence the term pandemic) overwhelming local, county, state, regional, and national assets. So even if you had a plan it is going to go out the window as soon as it hits.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

    www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

  3. #3
    Forum Member laddercompany's Avatar
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    I agree with you on that one.

  4. #4
    Forum Member DaSharkie's Avatar
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    I am not saying that the Feds should not have a plan to do something, but people need to wake the hell up and realize that federal government cannot, will not, nor should it care for the individual.

    People need to prepare for themselves, as do those individual agencies. It seems that the IAFF is playing politics as usual. Not necessarily the best thing to do.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

    www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

  5. #5
    Forum Member RLFD14's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Forum Member EastKyFF's Avatar
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    I agree to an extent, Sharkie, but there are a lot of things the Feds have to do, either due to regulatory constraints (such as FDA, obviously) or matters of practicality.

    This pandemic risk is a national issue. It just makes sense to coordinate certain things nationwide to ensure that we have some consistency. A good example is regulation of ephedrine due to the meth problem. States have taken action on restricting sale of ephedrine to make it harder for would-be cooks to get the needed ingredients, but there are some subtleties from state to state (and an absence of laws in a few states yet) that are creating incentives for cooks to relocate and/or smuggle inputs from elsewhere.

    Had there been consistent legislation nationwide--and I don't necessarily mean federal legislation, just 50 identical state laws--these things wouldn't happen.

    So in terms of the pandemic risk, I think it's good that the feds are mandating much of the preparedness. Response must begin locally, but the feds need to be proactive at this stage.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
    --General James Mattis, USMC


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