May 23, 2015
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Firefighter Close Calls
Columbus, Ohio fire officials are trying to sort out how and why a firefighter caused $255,000 worth of damage to a new fire engine by scraping it under a Downtown billboard.Firefighter Brian Murphy said he was trying to drive to other firefighters and paramedics who were helping a patient in a nearby alley when he turned into a parking lot near the corner of Main and Third streets in early March, according to his accident review by the Columbus Fire Division.Murphy told investigators he didn’t notice any “reflective tape or warning sign of low clearance" on the sign when he tried to drive underneath and into a surface parking lot about 8 p.m.“I did not see the sign, and I stopped as soon as I heard the spotlights breaking,” he said to investigators.The sign was clearly lit, according to pictures from the crash. The billboard is about the size of a semi-truck.The collision ripped lights off the engine, damaged a water pump and hose, dented the roof of the vehicle and destroyed other tools carried onboard.The city had just purchased the engine for $550,000. It had been in service less than a week before the crash. Murphy said he wasn’t as familiar with the vehicle and that his peripheral vision was impaired by the new, smaller windshield design.Officials in the city’s public-safety department were so frustrated by the crash that they’re considering not sending the engine back to the Downtown station once it is repaired. Instead, the station would get an older engine and the repaired vehicle would go to another station.The crash is still under an internal investigation.“Any accident we have there is a process, an accident-review committee,” said Dan Giangardella, the city’s deputy safety director. “I don’t know yet that that engine will be going back to that station. Obviously, we have to repair it and that will take some time.“We will be talking to the fire chief about that.”The Fire Division averages about 10 crashes a month that are reviewed by a committee. The committee determines if the firefighter or paramedic followed proper procedures or is at fault, according to crash data provided by the division in the last year.More than half the time, Columbus firefighters were found to be at fault from 2010 to 2014 and sometimes were ordered to be retrained, according to Fire Division data.Crashes happen, fire administrators said, because of the number of runs and miles the vehicles travel every year. The Fire Division responds to about 150,000 emergencies a year, in addition to inspecting hydrants, buildings and fire-alarm systems and investigating arsons.The accident review board examines any type of crash involving a vehicle, even if only a tail light or side mirror is broken.The crashes range from those involving medical vehicles heading to emergency scenes at high speeds to a firefighter clipping a tree while practicing with equipment.The Division of Police has a comparable review process.The difference between the two review boards is the Police Division will cite or ticket its officers if they are found to be at fault.The fire division does not issue traffic tickets or police citations.Giangardella said the money to fix the damage from Murphy’s crash will come from the safety department’s capital fund, which is used to purchase new equipment and vehicles for the Police and Fire divisio...

Houston Firefighter Murder/Suicide
 HPD: Firefighter fatally stabbed girlfriend, hanged self KHOU Staff, 9:45 a.m. CDT May 22, 2015 HOUSTON -- A Houston firefighter has died in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Houston Police Department. The bodies of a man and woman were found before 7 p.m. Thursday at a Lake Houston-area home on Lake Prince Lane near Smith Lake Lane. Family members went to check on the couple because the female victim had not picked up her daughter earlier in the day. According to HPD investigators, it's believed the firefighter fatally stabbed his girlfriend and then hanged himself inside the home. There were signs of forced entry, investigators said. In an interview with KHOU 11 News, family identified the murder victim as Caroline Minjares, who was a registered nurse For more information go to:    ...

 Investigators are trying to figure out if a man may have been impaired during a rear-end collision with a Grand Rapids fire truck overnight.It happened just before 1 a.m. Friday near the corner of Burton Street and the East Beltline Ave. SE while firefighters were on the scene of another crash.A fire department battalion chief says the man, who is being called "a habitual drunk driver," drove through cones and into the back of a truck, which had its emergency lights flashing.He was taken to the hospital and treated for his injuries. But no firefighters were hurt in the crash."It was kind of a close call for some of our people here," says Battalion Chief Dan Stoddard. "We were very fortunate that no one was hurt. we actually had a firefighter who had to run towards the woods because there as the car was coming in."The people involved in the original accident were not badly hu...

 Four firefighters were injured after they fell through a roof while battling a three-alarm fire at an abandoned casino in LA County late last night..The fire at the Club Caribe Casino ignited around 11:30 p.m. Thursday on the 7600 block of Atlantic Avenue.The firefighters were on the roof to cut a hole for ventilation when it gave way. They fell through and had to be rescued by fellow firefighters.Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said the roof collapsed like a slide, and the firefighters slid down. This minimized the firefighters' injuries, but the incident was still very intense."It's very terrifying. These are guys that I've worked with day in and day out. This is actually my old crew here, so I know all the gentlemen involved in this incident," said Chris Reade with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "When you're up on that rooftop and you start hearing creaking from that wood, I can't imagine. It's never happened to me, but I can't imagine what was going through their mind at first."All four firefighters were transported to local hospitals. They suffered minor injuries and will be OK.An investigation is underway to find out why the roof collapsed. Authorities will look into whether structural failure or the actual fire caused the collapse.The cause of the fire was unknown. Arson specialists are investigating the incide...

By Jim HofferSources tell Eyewitness News that a camera mounted inside an ambulance captured a 19 year-old driver falling asleep behind the wheel just before swerving off the roadway and striking a utility pole.This is the second time in two years that someone was critically injured or killed by a driver who fell asleep behind the wheel of a Senior Care ambulance.Our previous investigation revealed a pattern of accidents, the latest one raising questions about exhausted drivers and lack of state oversight.Young, overworked and driving an ambulance. That's what The Investigators found when we looked into a deadly accident involving a Bronx-based ambulance company earlier this year. Now, another accident involving the same company and calls for the state to step in.Sources tell us that a camera mounted inside the Senior Care Ambulance captured the 19 year-old driver falling asleep behind the wheel just before swerving off the roadway and striking a utility pole.Janet Hickey, who had survived brain surgery, was being transported to rehab that March afternoon. She flew out the back of the ambulance and suffered fatal head injuries."They killed somebody," her husband John Kuchta said.Her husband's grief is matched only by his anger at the ambulance company, Senior Care."They are dealing with human lives they should be in the best conditions, they should be alert, you are on the road," Kuchta said.We've learned that the teenage driver may have fallen asleep in the middle of the afternoon because sources say he was working a double shift at Senior Care. This is not the first time that fatigue may have been a key factor in a serious accident involving a Senior Care ambulance.As we reported in March, Senior Care recently paid out nearly $3-million dollars to a woman seriously injured when struck by one of their ambulances when the driver fell asleep behind the wheel."Apparently, a lawsuit didn't teach them or correct the problem the first time. It's the way it appears. So the state should step in," attorney Robert Weis said.We made several attempts to get a response from the head of the Bronx-based ambulance company.We wanted to talk to him about worker fatigue and the hours that they're working.After our initial report, we received numerous e-mails from EMT's about long hours and low-pay. One wrote, "We are poorly paid and so it's not uncommon for us to work 6 or 7 twelve hour shifts a week." Another wrote that he's paid "around $10-$11 dollars an hour" At one point, he says he held five jobs "just to make one decent paycheck.""Our review of Department of Health regulations shows there is nothing stopping a driver from working a double shift. That was very unsettling," Weis said.Besides no restrictions on work hours, ambulance drivers need only a New York driver's license to get behind the wheel."Would you get into an ambulance if you knew an 18 year old kid was driving? I wouldn't and I don't think anyone in this country would," Jay Doyle, Hickey's brother, said.There's an on-going investigation by Westchester County Police and the District Attorney. Part of that investigation focused on is whether the EMT's failed to properly lock-in the patient or whether there was a mechanical failure that would have prevented the stretcher from flying out of the ambulance.Remember, if you have an issue you need investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at or fill out the form to the right....

Six injured in Pontiac crash involving ambulance - Michigan
PONTIAC, MI -- Six people were injured in a weekend crash involving an ambulance that was transporting a "priority-one patient" to a hospital.Witnesses told Oakland County Sheriff's deputies that a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix caused the crash as it weaved its way through an intersection around 3 p.m. Saturday.The ambulance was eastbound on Huron Street with lights and siren activated as it approached an intersection at Franklin Boulevard when the white Grand Prix drove around stopped traffic and struck the EMS vehicle, witnesses told police.The crash caused the ambulance to spin around three times, and six people were taken to a hospital in other EMS vehicles after the crash, including the 46-year-old White Lake woman who was driving the Grand Prix.She consented to a blood draw at the hospital, disclosing that she was on several prescribed medications, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's office.A 35-year-old White Lake man who was initially being transported in the first ambulance, a 35-year-old pregnant passenger, a 40-year-old firefighter, a 45-year-old paramedic who was driving the first EMS vehicle and a second, 48-year-old paramedic were also taken to an area hospital....

Bullet pierces ambulance while patient being treated - Chicago
By Rsemary Regina SobolSomeone fired a gun into an ambulance while paramedics were in the vehicle treating a patient in the Englewood neighborhood but no one was hit, according to police and fire officials.  Paramedics were sent to the 5600 block of South Bishop Street around 5:35 p.m. Sunday for a traffic crash.  But when they got there, they found an ambulance with its driver's side front window shattered, said Will Knight, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department.  â€œA large caliber slug was noted on the floor inside the cab,’’ Knight said in an email.  The shooting happened as two paramedics in the ambulance were treating a person suffering from shortness of breath, Knight said.No one was reported in custody....

Police search for driver who may have played role in ambulance crash- Kentucky
SOUTHGATE, Ky. -- Police are investigating if a crash involving an ambulance that rolled over three times on I-471 Saturday could have been caused by somebody running it off the road.The Alexandria Fire Department ambulance was driving with its lights and sirens on, according to an accident report. The driver then had to get out of the way of a gray crane truck pulling onto the highway, and the wet road caused him to lose control.The driver, and the rest of the fire department, had just gone through driving training the week before, officials said.Two paramedics and a patient were injured in the crash, and an EMT who happened to be driving by rushed to help.Police are still looking for the driver of the truck.The department will be down an ambulance for a while, but officials said there won’t be a decline in service thanks to mutual aid....

FIREFIGHTER CAUTION: First of its kind drug lab found inside a home
A welfare check of a 4-year-old girl in Akron led to a chemical drug lab that is likely the first of its kind in the state of Ohio, according to Akron police.Police responded to 760 Silvercrest Avenue in Akron's Kenmore neighborhood to check on a 4-year-old girl around 6 p.m. Tuesday.Once at the home, officers could smell marijuana from outside in the driveway. According to Lieutenant Brian Simcox, when the officers approached the home a woman came to the door and told them they would need a search warrant to enter the home and check for the girl.Police went to a judge who signed the search warrant and they entered the home around 8 p.m. Tuesday.Once inside the home police immediately found a large amount of chemicals and equipment used in chemical drug manufacturing. Simcox said that he and other veteran officers could not identify the chemicals and had to call a BCI chemist to help with processing the scene.Most of the chemicals are used to manufacture hallucinogens like LSD and Ecstasy, Simcox said, but until the drugs can be tested they could not identify most of what they found inside the home."We did find a large bag of sassafras root which is an endangered bark that is used for hallucinogen drugs," Simcox told the night went on 8 officers worked to carry out the drugs and drug manufacturing equipment until the entire front yard was filled with drugs, chemical containers and drug making materials."According to what we are being told by our BCI chemist this is very unusual for Akron, let alone the state," Simcox said that in his nearly 20 years he has never seen anything quite this elaborate.A man and a woman were arrested and warrants will be filed for at least two others that were not home. Police said the 4-year-old girl was not in the home when they conducted their search warrant but she was located and is said to be OK.Simcox also told that 4 officers including himself were told by Akron Hazmat crews that they would need to go to the hospital to be checked out after cleaning up the lab because they entered the home unprotected expecting just a marijuana operation and were exposed to the chemicals....

New EMT comes to the rescue after ambulance rolls over with patient, paramedics inside - Kentuc
By Rose Ann AragonFORT THOMAS, Ky. – Josh Nicholson said he just let his training kick in.He was having a daddy-daughter day Saturday when he happened upon an ambulance that rolled over three times with a patient and two paramedics inside.Nicholson, a recently certified EMT, sprung into action.  "It was bad," he said, describing what he saw."The door's open. I see the driver back there trying to sort through some things. I see the medic laying and I see some blood."I immediately put some gloves on just to protect myself from the blood, and I just went through what I learned through school and just started assessing through life-threatening injuries and treated them as such," Nicholson said.This was one of his first times he performed life-saving treatments  after graduating in January."I immediately started cleaning up the sharps that were open and laying about to try and make it a bit more safe, and then from there we kind of stabilized his neck, put a C-collar on him and then we got the board ready and when we were available to we put him on the board and pulled him out," he said.Nicholson said he doesn't not consider himself a hero - he was just trying to do the right thing.Southgate police say they are still trying to figure out what caused the ambulance to roll over while transporting a patient from a medical call in Alexandria on the way to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas.The three people in the Alexandria Fire Dept. ambulance – the patient and two paramedics – were hurt, but their injuries were not life-threatening.  Two were transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center and one was taken to St. Elizabeth.No other vehicles were involved, police said.Southgate police are investigating the accident. Witnesses are asked to call Southgate police through Campbell County Dispatch at (859) 292-3622, or call (859) 441-7473 during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  ...

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