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May 30, 2006

W.H.O's Bird Flu Outbreak Plan

Reuters News reports;

"GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a step-by-step plan on Tuesday, including the rapid mass use of the antiviral Tamiflu, for containing a bird flu outbreak if the virus starts to spread rapidly among humans.

The "rapid response and containment strategy" has a chance of quashing the deadly H5N1 virus only if people in the zone at risk receive massive doses of the drug within three weeks of a confirmed outbreak, it said.

"The success of a strategy for containing an emerging pandemic virus is strictly time dependent," the WHO said in its latest containment report, based on recommendations by 70 international experts who held closed-door talks in March.

"Mathematical models have indicated that a containment strategy, based on the mass administration of antiviral drugs, has a chance of success only when drugs are administered within 21 days following the timely detection of the first case representing improved human-to-human transmission of the virus."

Under the detailed timeline laid down, a country should notify WHO of a cluster of suspicious cases suggesting sustained human-to-human spread of the virus within 24 hours of detection.

A WHO-approved laboratory has another 24 hours to confirm that the H5N1 bird flu virus has changed, either through mutation or through reassortment with human influenza.

The strategy relies on WHO's global stockpile for rapid containment, three million treatment courses of Tamiflu, donated by Swiss drugmaker Roche. Quarantine, infection control measures and contact tracing must also be carried out.

Once the WHO officially asks Roche for Tamiflu doses to be sent, they should arrive at the international airport nearest the outbreak within 24 hours, the Geneva-based agency said. ....cont. (see link)"

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May 28, 2006

The History of Memorial Day


From HistoryChannel.com (link in blog title)

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.)

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day:

* Mississippi: Last Monday in April
* Alabama: Fourth Monday in April
* Georgia: April 26
* North Carolina: May 10
* South Carolina: May 10
* Louisiana: June 3
* Tennessee (Confederate Decoration Day): June 3
* Texas (Confederate Heroes Day): January 19
* Virginia: Last Monday in May

(Photo attribution USConstitution.com)

Link to an inspiring Memorial Day essay by Chritopher Hitchens on WSJ via HispanicPundit blog.


Barbeque Safety Tips From FDNY


Bravest home site NYC.gov offers timely tips on BBQ safety.

I like "queing" on a charcoal grill Weber. Turning on a gas valve and calling it BBQ is no better than turning on the stove in the kitchen. You can't duplicate the flavor of infused mesquite smoke with gas. Tomorrow's feast features bone-in rib-eye steaks.

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May 27, 2006

Does Immigration Debate Put Forests at Risk?


The NY Times (registration req.) reports how the immigration debate may affect the Forest Service ability to fight wildfires this summer. I don't buy it. I think the NewYork Times is wrong. If someone is dropped from a blue card crew because of improper documentation the operators of the crew will have NO trouble filling the spot.

The NY Times article reports how private contract crews might be affected by new hiring requirements. Requirements include verifying legal status and hiring workers that understand enough English to pass a fire-terminology proficiency test. I don't have a problem with some crew members not understanding English but they must be trained adequately and the crew leaders must speak English for safety's sake.

I found nothing in the article that made me feel for any of the private contractors profiled. As I noted earlier all they have to do is place a simple ad in the newspaper or CraigsList and they would get more applications than they need.

As an extension of the discussion I believe this is one area where a guest worker program could pay dividends all around. Foreign crews could be strategically staged in the Western U.S. for quick deployment. Many crew members from Native American tribes, namely the Navajo make enough money during the fire season to support themselves and their families until the next season. It could be reasoned crews from Mexico or points further south in Central America could supply dozens of qualified crews.
Imagine 3 crews of 20 from a small city in Honduras, each crew member making $6,000 U.S after taxes. $360,000 going back to the community where they came from could boost their local economy and undoubtedly keep some young people in the town from making the journey North.

Photo attribution: SignOnSanDiego.com

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May 21, 2006

First Response Coalition

First Response Coalition is a non-profit organization whose stated mission is;

"to educate the public on the needs of our first responders and to ensure that decision makers attach a high priority to public safety issues such as funding, research, training, equipment, standards development, spectrum allocation and management. In addition, the FRC supports greater coordination at all levels of government to achieve seamless interoperability, which will allow emergency personnel to coordinate an effective response to local, regional, and national emergencies...."

May 20, 2006

Update: Firefighter Donald Herbert

Last June we heard the miraculous story of Buffalo Firefighter Donald Herbert. I posted on his story here.

While I watch the news as closely as anyone I missed the news of his passing earlier this year. The story is here.

"In 2005, in what some call a miracle, Herbert awoke at Father Baker Manor nursing home asking to speak to his wife. Herbert was moved from the New York nursing home to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for aggressive therapy. Meanwhile, the members of Chicago Local 2 and the Chicago Fire Department “adopted” Herbert’s wife and four children by arranging for housing and transportation for them while in Chicago...."


The U.S. Government operates this site that offers comprehensive information on avian flu. The site offers bird migration maps and other useful links including this link to WHO.

May 18, 2006

Has Bird Flu Mutated?

This article from ConsumerAffairs.com contains the following text;

"World Health Organization officials are increasingly concerned that a thus far unexplained outbreak of the bird flu virus could mean that a long-feared scenario has been borne out -- that the virus may have mutated so that it can be passed from one human to another.

The concern began with reports that seven members of one family in a remote Indonesian village had come down with the disease.

Doctors were immediately troubled by the fact that there had been no outbreaks of the disease among birds in the region. To date, all of the more than 200 people infected with the virus have gotten it from contact with a diseased bird.

Health authorities hoped that their investigation would disclose a common contact among the seven infected people. So far, that contact has not been found.

At this point, health officials say they cannot rule out that the seven infected family members passed the virus to each other.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have joined their WHO colleagues on the scene to continue the probe...."

In April I posted the IAFF.org guidelines for first responders if Avian flu hits their jurisdictions.
Scary stuff!

Post postscript; My blog post was almost immediately indexed on
Bird Flu Breaking News.

Rescue Me Promo (redux)

A representative from AOLtv wrote and asked if I would post a link to this clip of Dennis Leary's "Rescue Me" TV show.

Not a bother Liz.

May 12, 2006

Minutemen = American Heroes

The Minutemen are not vigilantes, they are heroes in my book.

This from the Minuteman Website "About us" page.

"About the Minuteman Project

The Minuteman Project is not a call to arms, but a call to voices seeking a peaceful and respectable resolve to the chaotic neglect by members of our local, state and federal governments charged with applying U.S. immigration law.

It is a call to bring national awareness to the decades-long careless disregard of effective U.S. immigration law enforcement. It is a reminder to Americans that our nation was founded as a nation governed by the "rule of law," not by the whims of mobs of ILLEGAL aliens who endlessly stream across U.S. borders.

Accordingly, the men and women volunteering for this mission are those who are willing to sacrifice their time, and the comforts of a cozy home, to muster for something much more important than acquiring more "toys" to play with while their nation is devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens.

Future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation as a harmonious "melting pot."

The result: political, economic and social mayhem.

Historians will write about how a lax America let its unique and coveted form of government and society sink into a quagmire of mutual acrimony among the various sub-nations that will comprise the new self-destructing America.

This is text.

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." --Samuel Adams"

May 01, 2006

FX Network's Rescue Me

I received this email today;


I'm Dave from Nettwerk Records. We are putting out
the soundtrack to Dennis Leary's hit FX show "Rescue
Me," a dramedy that centers on the inner workings of
Engine 62, a New York City firehouse, and the personal
and emotional battles of its members in a post-9/11
world. You can find out more at FX Networks if you have not seen it.

I saw that you manage a firefighter blog. We would
love if you could put a mention up on your blog.

Just let me know."

OK Dave, Done!