Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Popcorn Becomes Deadly…

The below article appeared on the MyMCMedia web site yesterday and I thought it was important to pass along for many reasons that will become apparent as you read it.

Thanks to Ms. Burkinshaw for allowing us to share this!  BD

Image of ambulance to represent Montgomery County Council Approves Ambulance FeeWhat should you do if someone eats something and they tell you their tongue feels itchy? Immediately ask them if they have a known allergy, ask them if they have an EpiPen and administer the dose of epinephrine, then call 9-1-1 (From www.foodallergy.org). Don’t wait – time is precious.
On Friday night, my kids were in the car on their way home from their high school football game when one of their friends (we will call him “Johnny”), who has known nut allergies, ate something he shouldn’t have eaten without checking the ingredients first: a handful of Fisher’s Caramel Popcorn.
In the car Johnny had asked if anyone had anything to drink so he could rinse his mouth out, but it was too late – he had already swallowed a pretty substantial amount of popcorn, though he tried to rinse his mouth out with the Diet Coke they had in the car as best as he could.
As they pulled into our driveway, Johnny got out of the car and began to try to vomit what he ate onto the grass – he was becoming desperate. Meanwhile we were losing precious time. He was swelling up – his lips were puffy, his eyes were watering and his nose was running – worst of all, his throat was swelling. My son ran in and told me Johnny had a peanut allergy and he needed water so he could try to throw up.
This is when I went outside to see what was going on. I could see his face was swelling and asked if Johnny had an EpiPen, and he said he did, but he didn’t have it on him. I told my son to call 9-1-1 immediately as I went to see if we had any Benedryl, which we did not. Meanwhile, everyone thought I was overreacting so we lost another precious minute before I got on the phone and called for an ambulance myself.
By now all the kids were inside and I did my best to get Johnny to relax at the kitchen table while we waited for the ambulance. With every second his breathing became more labored, his face became more swollen, and he was beginning to itch everywhere – he was telling us he couldn’t breathe as I rubbed his back and tried to keep him calm. We live very close to the fire station (about a mile away) – we could hear the sirens, but it took an eternity for them to get to us (in reality it was probably less than five minutes).
Finally, the engine truck got here, quickly followed by the ambulance. At this point I called Johnny’s mom – I can’t imagine being on her end of the line, “Is this Johnny’s mom? Johnny just had an allergic reaction to Fisher’s Popcorn. The ambulance is here, I’ll ride with him and meet you at the ER.”
By the time I hung up, the medics had given him a shot of epinephrine, administered an IV line and began an IV drip of Benedryl, and hooked him up to an oxygen tank. I could hear them saying, “Come on, Johnny, stay with us!” as I was on the phone with his mom.
It pains me to think about the what-ifs…
Thankfully Johnny is fine (he was discharged after a few hours in the ER) and now everyone present that night knows just how serious a food allergy can be. And Johnny, having faced death head-on, understands why he is supposed to carry an EpiPen with him at all times.
What does this mean to you? Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of anaphylaxis and don’t hesitate to “overeact” and call 9-1-1 when someone is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction to a food allergen or insect sting. Johnny’s brush with death taught all of us a very serious lesson: don’t wait to call an ambulance for what you think is a “no big deal” medical emergency – it can quickly become a big deal. Better to have the rescue service come and not be needed, than to wait until it is too late for them to be able to help…it only takes a few minutes for anaphylaxis to become life-threatening.
Also, when you hear a siren, move your vehicle out of the roadway and let the emergency responders pass, or stop at the intersection to let them cross – I can’t tell you how many people tried to outrun the ambulance on our way to the hospital, and the driver told me it happens all the time. Do your part to help save a life.
And the next time you see someone wearing a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) shirt around town, thank them in advance – you never know when they might be called to save your life or the life of someone you love.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mark Your Calendars - Upcoming Fire Department Open Houses

It’s the perfect time to check your smoke alarms!

October is Fire Prevention Month and fire stations across Montgomery County will be hosting many educational, family-oriented events and activities throughout the month.

This year’s theme focuses on the importance of working smoke alarms and knowing how old your
alarms are. Most of us pay close attention to expiration dates on food and medicine however many residents are unaware that smoke alarms also have expiration dates. All smoke alarms, hard-wired and battery powered expire and should be replaced every ten years.

Fire Chief Steve Lohr is encouraging all residents to check their smoke alarms to ensure the highest level of protection from smoke and fire. “Smoke alarms are one of the most important safety features to have in your home and if you haven’t replaced your smoke alarms since 2004, it’s time. We’re calling this the “ten year rule” to remind folks that after a decade of service, it’s time to retire and replace all expired smoke alarms.”

Open House events are free and will feature many exciting activities including tours of the station, fire safety activities, educational information/handouts, demonstrations of emergency equipment and much more. Please visit the fire station’s website or call for a complete listing of activities planned.

September 27  Germantown Fire Department, Station 29                     11:00 – 3:00 pm
                        20001 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown, MD

                        Bethesda Fire Department, Station 6        12:00 - 3:30 pm
                  6600 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD    

October 4         Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department, Station 15 12:00 – 4:00 pm
               13900 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD
October 5        Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department, Station 40        1:00 – 4:00 pm
                        16911 Georgia Ave, Olney, MD

               Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department    12:00 – 4:00 pm
                 19801 Beallsville Road, Beallsville, MD
                       (240) 773-4714

October 11    Rescue Day & Open House @ BCC Rescue Squad            11:00 – 4:00 pm
                      5020 Battery Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814
For more info:  www.bccrs.org

October 12     Gaithersburg –Washington Grove VFD                           12:00 – 4:00 pm
                       801 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD

                       Kensington Volunteer Fire Department, Station 5           12:00  – 4:00 pm
                       10620 Connecticut Avenue, Kensington, MD
               (240) 773-4705          

October 18     Chevy Chase Fire Department, Station 7 11:00  – 4:00 pm
               8001 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD

October 19     Hillandale Volunteer Fire Department, Station 24         12:00 – 3:00 pm
               13216 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD
                       Glen Echo Volunteer Fire Department, Station 11         11:00 – 2:00 pm
               5920 Massachusetts Avenue, Bethesda, MD

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When to Put the Brakes On

This week, Montgomery County Government, Police and Public Schools are teaming up to educate drivers about the importance of complying with Maryland laws pertaining to stopped school buses with activated flashing lights and stop arms. A new easy-viewing informational outreach campaign, #PassItOn, is being launched through social media.

We here at MCFRS support this vital safety initiative to keep our kids safe!  Please take a moment to view the video.


Monday, September 22, 2014

A Happy Ending

By Master Firefighter Franco Martinez

A funny thing happened on the way to picking up dinner for Silver Spring Fire Station 16 this past Saturday. 

As we were grabbing the dinner ingredients a Mom with her child come up to Firefighter Jon Merrell and I and said (pointing at Jon) "I know you, you delivered my baby in the back of the ambulance" and then proceeded with a big hug and verbal thanks to Jon.

As you can see, 11 months later a beautiful bouncing baby girl is doing just fine.  Needless to say this made our day!

Photo Courtesy of Master Firefighter Franco Martinez

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Child Passenger Safety

What is Montgomery County's law regarding car seat use?
Montgomery County does not have its own car seat law. We followMaryland law which currently states that children must ride in a child restraint system until they are at least eight years old, unless they are 4'9" before their eighth birthday. Maryland law states that the child restraint has to be federally approved and used correctly. Booster seats are considered child restraints, as well as infant seats, convertible seats and forward-facing seats.

What do I do if I need help getting a car seat?
If you live in Montgomery County and qualify, there is a voucher program that will provide a car seat for your child for $25.00. Call 240-777-2467 for any questions regarding eligibility. Once you have a voucher for a car seat, MCFRS will teach you how to install and use it properly at a scheduled car seat appointment.
When can my child ride in a car and just use the seat belts?
Most children are between 8 to 12 years old before they can safely ride in just a seat belt alone, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Click here to view PDF and find out if your child properly fits in a seat belt. When a child can safely ride with just a lap and shoulder belt depends on the vehicle. It is not uncommon for children to be able to ride safely in one family vehicle with the seat belt and not in another one.
When is my child allowed to ride in the front seat of my car?
Maryland's law does not state a child can't ride in the front seat (except for rear-facing infants in a car with active airbags-this is against instructions, very dangerous and illegal), however, it is strongly recommended by all safety experts that children ride in the back seat until they are teenagers. Age 12 and under should ride in the back seat. Children are 40% less likely to be seriously injured or killed in the back seat than the front seat.
When should I turn my child forward-facing?
Children should ride rear facing as long as possible, usually up to 24 months. Infant-only seats often are rated for use up to 22 pounds and convertible seats can be used rear facing up to 30 to 45 pounds. The longer a child rides rear facing the safer they are.
How soon can my child use a booster seat?
Children should not ride in a booster seat until they are close to 40 pounds and behave well enough to sit still in a booster seat with a lap-shoulder belt. Generally, children are 4 years old before they can ride in a booster seat.
How does one get certified to be a car seat technician?
In order to become a certified technician one must successfully complete a NHTSA standardized certification class that lasts approximately four days. Contact the program manager at 240-777-2467 for information about upcoming classes in Montgomery County. Classes are held every other month.
Will MCFRS come to my school/church/Day Care Center and organize a car seat check?
MCFRS conducts car seat checks eighteen hours a week among three different locations. Due to limited availability of certified technicians at other times, it is not usually possible to come to additional sites. Contact the program manager if you have specific requests.
Why is there a wait for a car seat appointment?
It is not unusual for MCFRS to receive fifty or more calls in a single day requesting a car seat appointment. With the available technicians, we can only schedule approximately 500 appointments each month. We make every effort to return your calls and meet your appointment needs as promptly as possible. We schedule appointments three weekdays and one evening each week, as well as three Saturdays a month.
What do I do if I need an appointment right away and there are none available for a week or more?
All car seats come with instruction manuals, as well as toll free numbers to reach the manufacturer. If you read and follow the instructions you should be able to safely use the seat until the next appointment is available. Call the MCFRS car seat hotline number (240-777-2222) to find other locations in the area that check car seats.
Is there anything special I need to know if I have a premature or smaller baby?
It is important to read the weight and height requirements on your infant seat. Some infant seats are rated for use from 4 to 22 pounds and others require a child to be at least 5 pounds. If you are anticipating a smaller newborn, get one of the car seats rated for use starting at 4 pounds. Sometimes newborns have a medical need to lie flat. If this is the case, your physician will suggest using a car bed. MCFRS has a supply of car beds for loaner use when this is necessary.
Are there any websites you suggest for additional child passenger safety information?
Do you also install car seats or just inspect them?
Our program wants to educate you about your car seat during your appointment. The more you have done ahead of time to prepare, the better your learning experience will be. We suggest that you try to read your car seat owner's manual and attempt to install your car seat before your appointment. Regardless of how your seat arrives, you will leave with a properly installed car seat and will know how to properly secure a child in it.
Is there a charge for this service?
There is not a charge for your appointment and we want to keep it that way for everyone. The funding for this program is limited due to reduced grant funding and minimal staff, so if you wish to help the program purchase seats for families in need or inspection supplies, donations can be made and are always appreciated. You will receive information about how to make a donation in the packet of materials you receive at your appointment. All donations go directly towards program costs.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Child Passenger Safety Week

September 14 - 20 is Child Passenger Safety Week.  As part of the week we would like to highlight our own awesome, and year round, Child Passenger Safety Program and remind everyone that you can have your child's car seat checked/inspected/installed at one of our Car Seat Inspection and Installation locations.

See below for further information as well as some helpful safety tips!

Infant & Child Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Fact Sheets

Car Seat Inspection Station Locations

To schedule an appointment call 240-777-2223. There can be a 2-3 week wait so plan ahead. Please contact Emilie Crown, Program Manager, at 240-777-2467 for any other issues. Need to have a car seat installed/checked/inspected? Montgomery County residents may click here to schedule an appointment.

Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:00 am - Noon

1st Saturday of the month 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Carseat safety
By appointment only at SAFE KIDS Montgomery County MD, Child Safety Seat Inspection Station
14111 Georgia Avenue (behind 7-11), Aspen Hill, MD 20906

Thursday Evenings 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

3rd Saturday of the month 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
By appointment only at Criswell Chevrolet
503 Quince Orchard Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Wednesdays 8:00 am - Noon

2nd Saturday of the month 8:00 am - Noon
By appointment only at Great Beginnings Children's Store
18501 North Frederick Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Child Seat Laws & Seat Check Information

Our goal is to ensure that the children of Montgomery County are properly secured in car seats and seat belts while traveling. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer of children under 15. The inspection stations are sponsored by the Montgomery County Fire Rescue and SAFE KIDS Montgomery County. Montgomery County Car Seat Inspection Stations are for Montgomery County Residents only. Non-county residents are welcome to participate in Fitzgerald Auto Mall's monthly (no appointment needed) seat check in Rockville. Call Montgomery County's Child Passenger Safety Hotline, 240-777-2222 to get the next date and phone numbers for other inspection sites.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Go PINK With MCFRS & Raise Funds For A Great Cause

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue has joined the national campaign for the fourth year in an effort to raise awareness about the cause and money for cancer research and programs.

Breast cancer is not gender specific and firefighters in Montgomery County will be trading their traditional on-duty shirts for ones in support of breast cancer awareness throughout the month of October.

The general public can join the cause and show support by purchasing a tee shirt, sweat shirt or hat similar to what our fire and rescue personnel will be wearing during breast cancer awareness month. Photos of the gear are below.  

To learn more and order your own apparel please go here: Breast Cancer Awareness

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September is National Preparedness Month! Take Action to PREPARE!

Are you and your loved ones ready for a storm that knocks power out for several days? Flash flooding that requires you to leave your home?  A tornado?  A fire in your home?

Unfortunately many are not.

Please take a moment to learn how you can take action to PREPARE by visiting the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security's web site.  Click on the image below to learn more from our partners in public safety.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hear Us, See Us, Clear for Us!

“Please Abide – Pull Aside”

Do you know what to do when approached by an emergency vehicle? The metropolitan area is often crowded and congested with traffic conditions caused by commuters, collisions, work zones and sometimes just “normal” traffic.

Emergency vehicles are impacted by these conditions, as well. When somebody calls 911 for help – the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service respond. How can everyday drivers help us to help you? – Normally drivers will HEAR usfirst, next they will SEE us, and then we need drivers to CLEAR for us.


C – L – E – A – R for emergency vehicles.

– Calmly pull to and as close to the edge of the roadway as possible and stop.

– Leave room. Keep intersections clear and never try to follow emergency vehicles.

E – Enter into traffic with caution after the emergency vehicle has passed. Remember to use signals.

A – Aware (be). Be aware of your surroundings. Keep radio volume low and check rear view mirrors frequently.

R – Remain stopped until the emergency vehicle has passed. Be mindful that there may be additional emergency vehicles approaching.

When approached by an emergency vehicle – the law says to pull over to the closest parallel edge of the roadway and yield the right of way to the emergency vehicle. An emergency vehicle is one with an audible siren and/or siren and emergency flashing lights. When driving and approaching an emergency scene – slow down and move over. In other words - “Give us a brake!”

Reduce the risk of an accident near an emergency scene and around emergency equipment.

Stay alert – expect anything to occur when approaching emergency vehicles.

Pay close attention – watch for police or fire direction.

Turn on your headlights – let on scene workers and other motorists see you.
Don’t tailgate – unexpected stops frequently occur near emergency scenes.

Don’t speed – slow down.

Keep up with the traffic flow – dedicate your full attention to the roadway and those traveling around you.

Minimize distractions – avoid changing radio stations and using mobile cell phones while approaching these areas.

Expect the unexpected – keep an eye out for emergency workers and their equipment.

Be patient – remember, firefighters and EMT’s have been called to the scene and are working to help someone.

In Montgomery County pedestrian and traffic safety issues are front and center. If you travel by car or are a pedestrian, please place extra emphasis on safety. Simply looking both ways before crossing a street, crossing in a crosswalk, spending a few extra seconds to cinch the belt on your child's safety seat, or delaying departure to ensure you get enough rest before a long trip can make all the difference. Preventative safety, while measured in seconds or minutes, can save you from months or years of anguish, grief, and "what if". Be smart. Be safe.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fire Captain Talks To Middle School Students About 9/11

Photo Courtesy of Pam Boe
For the last several years on every 9/11, Captain Troy Lipp has visited John Poole Middle School to tell the 7th Grade students the story of 9/11.  Not in textbook style, but in a very personal narrative as Captain Lipp was one of the Task Force Leaders of Maryland Task Force One that responded to the Pentagon that tragic day.

Most, if not all, of these 7th Grade students were not alive that fateful day thus it is a history lesson for them – a very important history lesson.  Captain Lipp wants to make sure the kids understand what happened and the impact of the day.  How better to learn than from someone who responded to the Pentagon and lived it for many days straight? 

After the presentation for the 7th graders, some members of Maryland Task Force One (Urban Search and Rescue) ate lunch with the students.

Photo Courtesy of Pam Boe

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fire Lieutenant Graduates From Montgomery County Police Training Academy

Lt. Gettig (c) receiving certificate from
Chief Lohr (r) and MCP Chief Manger (l)
Fire Chief Lohr is extremely proud to announce the graduation of Lieutenant (Lt) Andrew Gettig, assigned to the Fire Investigation and Explosives section of the MCFRS, from the Montgomery County Police Training Academy, Session 60 yesterday.

Lt. Gettig was selected several months ago to fill a vacancy in the Fire Investigation and Explosives section.  One key requirement to fill this role is certification as a law enforcement officer in Montgomery County.  To obtain that certification Lt. Gettig was placed in the intensive, 27-week Police Training Academy program for all new law enforcement recruits that is designed to challenge the recruit physically, academically, and mentally.

If that was not enough, Lt. Gettig went a step further and distinguished himself as he was selected by Montgomery County Police Academy Instructors to receive the prominent Captain James E. Daly Award.  The award, created in memory of Captain James E. Daly who was tragically killed in the line of duty in 1972, is presented to the recruit who best exemplifies the ideals of guidance, knowledge, courage, skill, and dedication to public service. 

Lt. Gettig was presented this award by Mrs. Fran Daly, Captain Daly's widow, in a very moving ceremony.

Congratulations on a job well done Andy! 

Mrs. Daly presenting Lt Gettig w/Daly Award
left to right AC Van Gieson, Chief Lohr, Lt Gettig
DC Steckel and BC Frazier 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Every Second Counts!

Some of our finest appear in this important piece that appeared on NBC Nightly News last night. Please hear us, see us & then clear for us! Every second counts!

Monday, September 1, 2014

MCVFRA Recruiting Video

Looking for something meaningful to do to give back to your community? From our partners at the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association.