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Terrorism – thoughts following Boston

16 Apr


Our Co-Owner and Coordinator, Luisa Rapport, wrote this commentary yesterday following the tragic events that unfolded during the Boston Marathon and we think it deserves a repost.

Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone involved and affected by the attack.


Many years ago, when I was employed in public safety, I had the opportunity to meet a group of responders from Magen David Adom, the Israeli national emergency medical service. They were educated, skilled responders, just like me, with families just like mine. They dealt with terrorist acts on a daily basis and made it clear to us that they would not be surprised to see it happen in the United States. Maybe we have been naïve to the hard truths of the world today, maybe we foolishly thought we were immune. I don’t know.

 This I do know: Terrorism, be it domestic or foreign, big, small or otherwise is universal in its intent; to terrorize, to make us afraid; To shake us so deeply as a community and victimize us as a nation that we cease to function as one. Regardless of which political party is in control, who is elected President, who has a gun or what security measures are in place, we will always be at risk for terrorism. That is scary.

But we all have the ability to fight terrorism. We can fight by getting to know our neighbors and building our communities. We can fight by supporting our responders and all those who rush in and go to work when everyone else is running out. We can fight by accepting different cultures and religions and beliefs (terrorists, as a whole, especially hate that). We can fight by being proud Americans who find the best in a changing nation.

We cannot bring those back that have been lost to terrorist acts. But by refusing to allow this to terrorize us, by refusing to allow this to disrupt and divide us as a nation, we reduce the number of victims and make the act unsuccessful.


Thoughts and Prayers for Newtown, Connecticut

17 Dec

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the young victims, the heroic teachers, emergency responders, families of those lost and to everyone affected by the tragic incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

As parents and responders, we are acutely aware of the fact that we cannot always shield our children from the evils that exist in this world. Like most parents, we are doing our best to provide our children with love, support and consistency in the saddest of times for our Nation.

If your children are asking questions and you feel the need to discuss the incident with them, there are many online resources to guide you in these discussions. We found the following articles especially helpful:

How to Talk to Your Kids About the Connecticut School Shooting, Huffington Post

How Not to Talk With Children About the Newtown Shooting, The New York Times



San Francisco Marks 105th Anniversary of Great Quake

18 Apr

Early this morning, dozens gathered to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the devastating 1906 earthquake and ensuing fire that killed thousands and leveled a majority of the city of  San Francisco.

The event took place at 5:11 am this morning at Lotta’s Fountain, which became a gathering place for survivors in 1906.

Event organizers included a moment of silence for the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, and collected donations for the American Red Cross relief effort. Coincidentally, historians note that Japan stepped forward in 1906 to provide $250,000 to the recovery effort after the San Francisco quake, more than any other country.

The anniversary of the Great Quake is yet another reminder to Bay Area and California residents that earthquakes are a constant threat, preparedness is a necessity. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee reminded “The first responders, as brilliant and as great as they are going to be here in San Francisco, can’t get to everybody all at the same time in the first few hours.”

Read first-hand accounts of the days following the 1906 quake, published this week by the San Francisco Chronicle.

For more information on how you can prepare for the next big quake, visit our website.

Japan Was a Model of Preparedness, Are We?

14 Mar

People who were isolated at an elementary school, head for a safe place in Sendai, northern Japan Saturday. (AP Photo)

The course of events in Japan have, once again, brought to light the uncertainty amongst most who live and work in the U.S., especially those in areas more often threatened by natural disaster…Are we ready?

In a word, no.

As a nation, Japan has the most dedicated and sophisticated preparedness measures in place. Their engineering is second-to-none, they carry out a nationwide earthquake drill every year, and they rolled through two 7+ earthquakes with very little disruption to any of their infrastructure. The fact that it took an 8.9 quake and a 30 foot tsunami to shake them is a testament to their preparedness.

An NPR report posted yesterday pointed out that ‘because of a long history of frequent, sizable earthquakes, Japan was relatively well-prepared for the latest quake. Japan could not protect its entire coastline against tsunami with its system of seawalls. And with sizable aftershocks still occurring, the final death toll will not be known for some time. But it will be a fraction of the 230,000 deaths seen in Haiti following last year’s earthquake.’

Japan’s preparedness is not limited to engineering. As a nation, the Japanese people take preparedness seriously and practice regularly, a practice that receives very little attention in the States unless prompted by a recent event.

Oregon officials, for instance, organized a large-scale earthquake drill on Jan. 26 — the 311th anniversary of a Pacific Northwest earthquake that was roughly the size of Japan’s on Friday.

But with no such disaster in living memory, the drill was a rare example of the area preparing itself. The first seismic building codes didn’t go into effect in Oregon until after the wake-up call of a 1994 earthquake in Northridge, Calif. Retrofitting since has been piecemeal and slow.

“The Northwest coast of the U.S., that’s where the big problem is, if you ask me,” says Pedro Silva, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at George Washington University. “The potential is there for a mega-earthquake of the magnitude we saw in Japan. You would be unlikely to see many buildings withstand it.”

Surviving earthquakes is more than a matter of building quality and design. A place like Japan seeks to instill in its citizens a sense of how crucial it is to prepare. Haiti may not see another sizable quake for 200 years. But many other locales know they’ll get hit again. The difference between death tolls of 1,000 or 100,000 may come down to a shared belief that another earthquake will hit within their lifetimes, so it’s worth investing the resources necessary to survive it. “In Japan, they have a civilization of earthquake preparedness,” says Silva, who has visited the country three times. “What really amazed me was that even at the kindergarten level, they receive earthquake briefings continuously. It’s really in their culture.”

So, after all is said and done in Japan, after reporters leave and families begin to rebuild, the most important thing for us all to do is to remember this and every disaster and to learn from those who prepared. If we continue to remind ourselves that these disasters will happen again and, most likely, will happen in our country, our state, maybe even our own community then we can begin to prepare.

Every emergency kit assembled, every emergency response team training, every community exercise takes us one step closer to being prepared to handle these disasters to the best of our abilities.

As professionals, we owe it to our staff and clients. As citizens, we owe it to our communities. Most of all, we owe it to our loved ones.

View the full NPR report here.

If you are looking for persons missing in the quake, have information on missing persons, need local Japan contact information or want to donate to help quake victims, visit the Google Crisis Response page.

For more information on how you can prepare for natural disasters, visit our website.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Can Take the Lives of Youth Athletes

7 Mar

A moment of jubilation for hundreds of Fennville, MI basketball fans turned to horror Thursday night as junior Wes Leonard collapsed on the court after celebrating his team’s dramatic victory and clinching of a perfect season.

Two hours later, the 16 year old was pronounced dead at Holland Hospital, leaving family, friends and school staff shocked and confused at how a seemingly healthy young life could end so suddenly.

Formal medical reports indicated that Leonard suffered from an enlarged heart. Leonard’s death follows a pattern known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest, which kills 300-600 high school students each year.

According to Parent Heart Watch, an advocacy group dedicated to preventing SCA in children,

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the condition in which the heart unexpectedly ceases to function.  Often, this is because of irregular and rapid quivering of the heart’s lower pumping chambers (ventricles) called ventricular fibrillation. When this occurs, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs, causing loss of consciousness or seizure-like activity in seconds.

If not treated within minutes, SCA results in death.  The normal rhythm of the heart can only be restored with defibrillation, an electrical shock that is safely delivered to the chest by an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is frequently the outcome of an underlying heart condition.  It can also occur secondary to other conditions such as impact to the chest, heat stroke, asthma, drowning, electrocution, allergic reaction, or medication.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is indiscriminate as to age, race or gender and kills over 300,000 Americans each year.  Victims of SCA may never experience any warning signs.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is Not a Heart Attack.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) is when a blockage in a blood vessel interrupts the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart causing heart muscle to die.  With a heart attack, the heart usually does not suddenly stop beating.  A heart attack can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Detecting underlying heart conditions in youth athletes is the first step in preventing SCA. Parent Heart Watch reports that most heart conditions that can lead to SCA are not detectable with a stethoscope.  Many heart conditions can be detected with simple, noninvasive and painless tests, a comprehensive review of personal and family heart history and the proper assessment and follow-up of warning signs and symptoms, if any.  As children grow their hearts change and repeat evaluations are often needed.

If a child is diagnosed with a heart condition, there are many precautionary steps that can be taken to prevent the likely outcome of SCA including lifestyle modifications, medication, surgical treatments, and implanting a pacemaker and/or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

The best way to treat SCA is:

  • Early Recognition of SCA
  • Early 9-1-1 access
  • Early CPR
  • Early Defibrillation
  • Early Advance Care

If you or your children are involved in youth sports activities, check with the school or coaches to be sure that they have an automated external defibrillator (AED) available and are trained to use it.

Talk with your child’s physician about the possibility of periodic heart screenings to detect any underlying conditions before they cause any health issues.

For more information on Sudden Cardiac Arrest, visit Parent Health Watch.

For training that can prepare your family, school and community coaches for medical emergencies, visit our website.

San Bruno blaze provides stark reminder for preparedness

10 Sep


If you live anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area, you were likely glued to your television last night watching the startling reports of the gas line explosion and subsequent fire that destroyed much of an entire neighborhood in San Bruno.

Most first-hand accounts of the incident stress the fact that residents had very little time to evacuate their homes and escape the growing fire. Most arrived at shelters and hotels with nothing but ‘the clothes on their back’.

These accounts highlight the importance of keeping a small disaster kit for each member of the family in your home, vehicle or both. Having small children ourselves, we like to have  a small backpack ready for each family member, packed with a change of clothes, pair of closed-toe shoes, jacket or sweater, small snack and bottle of water, handheld flashlight or glow stick, and a small supply of any necessary medication. For our children, we also include a “comfort item” such as a stuffed animal or other toy that can help ease the stress of a disaster situation.

For full coverage of the San Bruno incident, visit

Many fire victims lost everything and Bay Area blood banks are calling for donations. Want to know how you can help? Contact the American Red Cross