UK – Young people most at risk in a flood according to British Red Cross and Environment Agency

Young people most at risk in a flood, warns Environment Agency & British Red Cross

  • 18-34s least aware of dangers of flooding in their area
  • More than half of 18-34s would not know what to do in an emergency
  • Mental health impacts of flooding can last for two years or more

The Environment Agency and British Red Cross are urging young people to learn how to protect themselves and help their communities when flooding hits after research shows a lack of knowledge is putting them at risk.

According to Environment Agency research, 18-34 year olds are least likely to know if the area where they live is at risk of flooding and least likely to know how to protect their homes and possessions. Less than half (48%) of under 35s would know what to do if a flood warning was issued.

This week, the government published new climate change projections which show that sea levels are set to rise over this century and more frequent, extreme weather requires urgent action. This means that knowing your flood risk and understanding what action to take in a flood is more important than ever.

5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding and the average cost of flood damage to a home is £30,000 but the devastating consequences can go beyond the material. Those who experience flooding in their own home are also at high risk of suffering from negative mental health impacts which can last for years after flooding has hit. The most recent Public Health England research shows that over a third of people who were flooded in 2014 suffered with depression, anxiety or PTSD and nearly a quarter of people were still experiencing these negative mental health impacts two years later.

In December 2015, Storm Desmond struck North West England and caused extensive flooding, leaving 45,000 homes without power. Thousands of properties in Cumbria were flooded including a church in Kendal where local resident, Jonny Gios still works. He said:

Being flooded turned our world upside down for a whole year. The community came together in an amazing way during the recovery process but the stress and worry in the months that followed was devastating. It was difficult to unpack the trauma and took several months of counselling – suffering physical and emotional symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

I can’t underline how important it is to be prepared and to know what to do when flooding hits. Simple actions can make a huge difference and could save you months of trying to gather your life and home back together.

The Environment Agency has today launched its Flood Action Campaign, partnering with the Red Cross, to encourage young people to learn how to Prepare Act Survive in a flood to reduce the impacts of damage, and to join a new national network of Community Reserve Volunteers to help their communities if disaster strikes.

Caroline Douglass, Director of Incident Management & Resilience at the Environment Agency said:

The terrible impacts of flooding can last long after the flood waters have receded. But simple actions can lessen the damage to your home, protect your wellbeing and help you recover more quickly.

Our flood defences protect thousands of homes around the country but we can never entirely eliminate the risk of flooding, which is why it’s crucial to know how to protect yourself when it hits.

Simon Lewis, Head of Emergency Response at the British Red Cross, said:

We respond to an emergency every four hours in the UK, from major fires to devastating floods. Flooding can have a catastrophic impact on homes and communities, causing untold damage to the things and the people we treasure most. That’s why it’s vital we all know what to do, and how to help, to lessen the impact and help communities rebuild and recover faster.

Sadly we cannot always stop things like this from happening, but by becoming a community reserve volunteer, young people across the UK could help make a difference should the worst happen.

The British Red Cross wants to create a national network of 10,000 community reserve volunteers who can be called upon to help in a crisis. Over 5,000 people have already signed up to the scheme so far.

To be a community reserve volunteer you don’t need specialist skills to make a difference and simple acts of kindness can make big difference. Any necessary training will be given at the scene of the crisis and you can confirm your availability when you are contacted. With these two initiatives the Environment Agency and the Red Cross want to see younger people not only better prepared for flooding but also more actively involved in supporting the community in times of need.

The Environment Agency is spending more than £2.6 billion to build flood schemes around the country as part of its current programme, which will better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.

UK – Vodafone connects South Central Ambulance Service First Responders to boost patient response

Vodafone UK is providing South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) with mobile devices and a bespoke app to improve efficiency and response times for its 1,200 Community First Responders (CFRs) and Co Responders (Police, Fire & Military) in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. CFRs and Co Responders are volunteers trained to attend medical emergencies and start lifesaving interventions prior to the arrival of an ambulance.  These interventions can have a significant positive impact on patient outcomes.

The Vodafone solution includes a bespoke app and the provision of mobile devices with 4G connectivity, which can be securely managed, protecting patient information. To date, 350 mobile devices are in operation across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, with a further 210 to be issued over the coming weeks.

The bespoke app, developed in partnership with CommonTime, enables simple and reliable communication between the Community First Responders and their office-based control centre – the Clinical Coordination Centre.

Community First Responders can log in and report that they are available to respond.  When an incident occurs, the closest available responder will be alerted and provided with the exact location, fastest route and incident details. On arrival, they can share critical information about the incident and request additional support from the emergency services.  For their safety, CFRs are tracked at all times through GPS.

Nic Morecroft, Head of Operations – Community Engagement & Training, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We recognise there is a huge opportunity to improve patient care using digital technology. Our partnership with Vodafone highlights how implementing technology solutions can have an immediate and real impact on the service we offer to patients.  We have already seen improved efficiencies and feedback from our first responders has been extremely positive.”

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director from Vodafone UK said: “We are delighted to be working with the South Central Ambulance Service to help improve response times for this critical service, and ultimately patient care. We will be working together to identify other areas where we can use the power of technology to bring benefits to both Community First Responders and patients.”

UK – NEAS launches new resource to support patients with learning disabilities

The North East Ambulance Service has launched a new resource to support patients with learning disabilities.

A new online resource is now available on the Trust’s website, giving people the information in an easy read format that will help them to choose which emergency service they require, be it  NHS111 or 999.

Public Health England has stated that 40% of people with a learning disability reported having difficulty using health services.  People with learning disabilities are two and a half times more likely to have health problems than other people and therefore many of the patients that staff provide aid to often have barriers to communication during triage and treatment. (Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap).

Engagement manager at the Trust, Mark Johns, explained why there was a need to develop information for different people who use the service.  He said, “We know from patient feedback and surveys that people with learning disabilities find it harder to access and communicate with our service.

Information about how to use our services should be readily available to all members of the public, including people with learning disabilities, and we wanted to make sure that we tailored the information so that it’s accessible to people who need it in a different format.”

The NEAS learning disability zone has been created to reduce barriers to communication for people with learning disabilities to optimise patient experience and quality of care.  The information is presented an illustrative form of what to do in an emergency, including a section of what to expect inside an ambulance with pictures and basic descriptions of the equipment in the vehicle.

A user led project group was set up with a community group which supports people with learning disabilities to understand the obstacles individuals face and to help design new guidance on how to access emergency assistance.

Stephen Mckay Guidepost day centre officer said, “We support a diverse group of individuals with a wide range of learning disabilities and it’s encouraging to see this work has taken into consideration the varied capacity and needs of these individuals and the end product speaks for itself. So many places create resources for people with learning disabilities without meaningful engagement with them.

“It’s great that the group have been so heavily involved in creating this zone and actually really listened to. NEAS has broken down the barriers that people with learning disabilities can face when it comes to accessing the right healthcare services and developed a resource we think will help support others to understand the services they offer.”

Mark continues “The project group explained their fears about being inside an ambulance and calling 999 so we’ve tried to allay their fears with more information about what happens once calling us and once on board an ambulance. We hope this new resource gives confidence to people when they come across and need our emergency services. For NEAS, it means that our call handlers will be aware of what to expect when arranging the appropriate help for the person in need, making the experience less stressful for all concerned.”

NEAS also arranged for the project group to meet a paramedic who showed them around the inside of an ambulance and encouraged them to experience sitting on the stretcher and wearing an oxygen mask, should it ever happen to them in the future.

Carol who was one of the participants in the project group said, “I was terrified of the mask, that’s why I asked to have a go.  Now I won’t be scared if I needed to ever use it in real life. I hope when people see my picture they won’t feel scared too. The North East Ambulance Service’s website is really good and I’m glad I got to tell the paramedics and other staff what I wanted to know.”

Paul, who was another participant in the project group said, “The new NEAS website page is really good and I really like that NEAS listened to me and I will show other people so they can learn how to get help too.”

You can find out more about the disability learning zone by following this link: /patient-info/learning-disability-zone.aspx

Delaware – DPH announces first flu deaths of the 2018-19 season

The Division of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the first flu-related deaths of the 2018-2019 flu season. A 65-year-old man who was infected with Influenza A passed away last week, making him the first person to die due to flu complications this season. In addition, a 73-year-old man and a 77-year-old woman, both also infected with Influenza A, passed away within the last week. All three individuals were Sussex County residents and all had underlying health conditions.

As of Dec. 22, 2018, the most recent date for which statistics are available, there have been 461 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware. This number only reflects the number of lab-confirmed cases; the actual number of cases circulating statewide is likely much higher. Additionally, 80 people have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms since the start of the flu season. These numbers are an increase from the 2017-2018 season when at the same time, there were 225 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and 63 hospitalizations.

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have died from flu-related complications,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “This is an unfortunate and solemn reminder that the flu can be deadly. If you haven’t already, please take the time to get a flu vaccine and make sure everyone in your family has received theirs, as well. The flu vaccine lowers your chances of getting the flu and can lessen the severity of symptoms if you do fall ill. Also be sure to take any antiviral medication as your doctor prescribes.”

Single-week numbers of laboratory-confirmed flu cases have started to increase in Delaware. A total of 179 lab-confirmed flu cases were recorded between Dec. 16 and Dec. 22, 2018, compared to 95 laboratory-confirmed cases reported between Dec. 9 and Dec. 15, 2018.

In addition to getting a flu vaccine and taking antiviral medication, DPH recommends the following:
• Practice social distancing if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
• Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available,
sneeze or cough into your inner elbow.
• Stay home if you are sick until you are free of fever for 24 hours – with a temperature of less than 100
degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours.

Social distancing means that those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with a temperature less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours. They should avoid close contact with well people in the household, and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as he or she may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more susceptible to catching the flu.

DPH will be administering free flu vaccines in the basement floor Library in Legislative Hall at 410 Legislative Ave., Dover, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Members of the public who wish to attend this flu clinic must go through security. Additionally, flu vaccines continue to be available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, and through primary care physicians and some specialists. To find participating stores, enter your zip code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) flu vaccine finder at www.cdc.gov/flu/. For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/ or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672.

Flu shots are still available at DPH clinics located within the State Service Centers:

• Porter State Service Center, 509 W. 8th St., Wilmington. For all ages 9 and up. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-283-7587 (choose Option 2) to make an appointment Monday through Friday.

• Williams State Service Center, 805 River Road, Dover. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-857-5140 to make an appointment Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

• Milford State Service Center – Riverwalk, 253 N.E. Front St., Milford. For ages 9 years and older. Call 302-424-7130 to make an appointment on Mondays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

• Anna C. Shipley State Service Center, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For information, call 302-628-6772.

• Adams State Service Center, 544 S. Bedford St., Georgetown. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome on Thursdays only from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/influenzawkly.html.

Exercise your emergency plan. Often.

For a good while it was my task to imagine, research, write and execute plausible worst-case scenarios for everything from natural disasters to pandemics to terror attacks.

My little outfit was called Apocalypse (noun) and we were the in-house bad-stuff-no-one-wants-to-consider creators for many executive-level exercises on this little globe of ours.

My colleagues and mentors would serve as reality checkers – ‘Let me see the science research on this one’ or ‘Did you actually check the ventilation system in the Governor’s offices?’

The answer to that last one was, “Yes.” I spent a great deal of time on the ground, researching the areas of interest and doing time-date-weather checks to ensure we had every detail down right.

Occasionally, the scenarios we crafted were so realistic they caused raised eyebrows among the most senior command staff who would be running through them as part of large-scale tabletop and/or functional exercises.

Sometimes they’d ask my handlers how we knew the exact details of what they thought were closely guarded secrets. “Research. And did we mention – Hal’s a foreign national?” was the reply they seemed to enjoy the most.

Many of our scenarios resulted in major changes to the emergency planning process – and more than a few times – were the basis for large-scale awareness/planning programs.

Colleagues who were part of the process would call and say, “Did you see the new DHS directives? Look familiar? Good job.”

Those immersive environments included high-def media produced by some of the most creative minds in the world. We were playing for keeps. And play we did.

Unfortunately, every now and again, a worst-case scenario would play out in real life with casualty counts measured in real lives altered forever.

I take solace in the fact we worked hard to try to get people to imagine what happened if all the ‘What ifs’ fell into place… and made the scenarios so real we captured their imaginations – forcing them to work through every aspect of their response in a controlled albeit extremely high stress environment.

No regrets. Only the occasional rattling reminder that real-life often is far worse than what we considered to be the worst-case scenario.

Be well. Practice big medicine.*

Hal Newman, Executive Director, NEMRC

*Big Medicine = the right people working together at the right time will be Big Medicine. I’ve been saying ‘Be well. Practice big medicine’ for as long as I can remember. It is my own very personal version of ‘Sawu Bona’, the Zulu greeting which means ‘I see you’… I see all of you, I see your good works, I see the difference you are making in the world.

Australia – VIC – Communities to mark 50th anniversary of devastating fires

Tuesday 8 January 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the devastating bushfires of 1969.

On that day 230 fires burned across Victoria, of which 21 were serious including fires in Lara, Darraweit Guim, Daylesford, Bulgana, Yea, Kangaroo Flat and Korongvale.

More than 250,000 hectares, 230 houses and 12,000 livestock were destroyed. Tragically 21 people died, including two CFA volunteers. Hundreds were injured.

Although dry and hot throughout January that year, the weather on 8 January 1969 was unexpected. A weather system that developed in the western Bass Strait that morning brought strong gale force winds to much of the state, causing some fires from the day before to reignite and fanning new fires. 

The worst fires were in the open farm land around Lara near Geelong. It is estimated that the fire travelled up to 11 kilometres per hour that day due to the 119 kilometre winds and low humidity. Lara was almost wiped off the map as the fire burned from the You Yangs to Corio Bay.

The township experienced the most significant deaths with 18 people losing their lives.

The fire in Lara moved so quickly that motorists on the Princes Highway had little chance of escaping as the fire crossed the highway in the mid-morning. 

Some of the 17 who died on the highway had panicked and jumped from their cars in dense smoke in an effort to flee the fire on foot.

Two brothers who sheltered in their car through the worst of the fire front survived. It was the first time that evidence suggested that it was safer to remain in a car during a fire rather than abandoning it – advice that is used today.

In addition to the 18 deaths, more than 40 homes were destroyed, the primary school and church were gone, and vital railway infrastructure was burning.

The other major fire that day occurred in Darraweit Guim where strong winds swept flames through more than 20,000 acres of farmland and crops in a matter of minutes, destroying 12 homes, two churches, thousands of livestock as well as farm machinery and stock feed.

Communications were also disrupted as power poles caught fire and fell to the ground.  

That evening a cool change with heavy rain brought an end to the worst of the fire threat and welcome relief to the state.

The Lara and Little River communities will come together on Sunday 6 January 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the fires and those who lost their lives. All events are free.

 •Church Service at Holy Trinity Church Flinders Ave. Lara, 10am to 11am

•Commemoration Service at the Lara Fires Memorial (next to the Lara Library), 11.30am to 12.30pm

•Community gathering at Lara Community Centre, 12.30pm to 1.30pm

•Guided bus tour by Captain Terry Hedt who fought in the 1969 fires. Limited seats, 1.30pm (departing Lara Community Centre)

For more information on these events, visit the Lara CFA Facebook page.

Australia – SA – Interesting follow-up eight years after successful SAR operation

An overturned vessel found off the coast of Kangaroo Island on New Year’s Eve has been identified as the ‘Wild Eyes’.

The vessel was spotted from the air by a tuna spotting plane about 11 nautical miles south of Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island about 12.30pm on Monday 31 December.  The police helicopter (PolAir) was sent to investigate, along with two commercial fishing vessels operating nearby.

The boat was subsequently identified as the ‘Wild Eyes’, which had been abandoned eight years ago in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a round the world voyage.

On 10 June 2010, the “Wild Eyes” was dismasted in rough seas halfway between the Western Australian coast and Africa in the Indian Ocean while American Abby Sunderland was attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.  A rescue was coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and she was eventually rescued by a French commercial fishing vessel on 12 June.

Australia – QLD – QFES asks far north residents and visitors to prepare for TC Penny

Tropical Cyclone (TC) Penny is expected to cause wild weather across far north Queensland in the coming days and everyone in the region is being asked to prepare for heavy rainfall, damaging winds and possible flash flooding.

Communities located between Cape York and Pormpuraaw are being asked to ensure their properties are prepared before taking shelter when the system crosses the coast this afternoon.  

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) advised Tropical Cyclone Penny had formed in the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria this morning (Tuesday) and is expected to cross the coast near Weipa this afternoon as a category 1 cyclone. 

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Far Northern Region Assistant Commissioner John Bolger said it was important for locals to follow the directions of authorities and either shelter in place until the cyclone passed or relocate to a safer place if asked.

“Those who remain in place should shelter in the strongest part of the house and ensure their emergency kit is close by,” Mr Bolger said.

“It’s also important that people stay inside until they receive official advice that the cyclone has passed. Some people are not aware of the calm eye of the cyclone and mistakenly venture outside thinking that the threat has passed.

“Keep up to date with the movement and severity of the cyclone by listening to local radio and watching the BoM website.”

With Tropical Cyclone Penny expected to track towards the eastern coast of far north Queensland after making landfall, communities in the Cape York Peninsula and parts of the north tropical coast are being asked to finalise their preparations.

“If you are visiting or holidaying in Queensland and do not have family or friends to shelter with, contact your accommodation manager immediately to identify the options available,” Mr Bolger said.

“If you are a resident and you don’t have a safe location to go to, please contact your local council for options.”

Importantly, Mr Bolger said the intense rainfall could result in flash flooding of creeks, drains and causeways. 

“The simple and constant message here is if it’s flooded, forget it.

“Under no circumstance should people enter flooded creeks or causeways by road or on foot. If you come across rising floodwaters, turn around and seek an alternative route.

“Parents, please also discourage your children from playing or swimming in flooded creeks and drains. Floodwaters can be deadly and there are many dangers lurking beneath the surface.”

State Emergency Service (SES) Regional Director Wayne Coutts said SES crews would be on hand to help the community as soon as it is safe to do so. 

“The public are asked to remember that the SES is made up of volunteers dedicated to helping others and the SES will always put the safety of its volunteers first during adverse weather conditions,” Mr Coutts said. 

“The SES will also assist the most vulnerable members of the community first so it is important able-bodied residents do everything they can to help themselves and their community instead of putting unnecessary pressure on emergency authorities.”

For storm and flood assistance contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500 and in a life threatening emergency call Triple Zero (000). 

For further information on how to prepare your home visit www.getready.qld.gov.au and to keep updated on warnings monitor the BoM website at www.bom.gov.au

Australia – NSW – Measles alert

NSW Health is warning people to be alert for signs and symptoms of measles, after three infectious cases have been notified in the Christmas-New Year period.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness which begins with a cough, fever, sore, red eyes and runny nose, followed three to four days later by a red spotty rash which begins on the face and neck and spreads to the rest of the body.

People who are experiencing signs and symptoms of measles should seek medical attention. NSW Health recommends calling ahead to the practice or emergency department to alert of them of your symptoms, so that measures can be taken to limit your exposure to others upon your arrival.

Symptoms usually begin to appear around 10 days after exposure to an infectious case, however the time from exposure to onset can be as long as 18 days.

Update 3 January 2019

A child visiting from overseas developed measles symptoms while visiting NSW on Christmas Eve. Prior to being diagnosed with measles and isolated the child visited the several locations. People who were at these locations at the same time as the child may be at risk of developing measles up to January 18:

DateLocation
Thursday 27 DecemberChatswood Medical and Dental Centre, 7 – 8pm
Thursday 27 DecemberChatswood Mall, including Chemist Warehouse, late afternoon
Friday 28 DecemberOakvale Winery, Pokolbin, 5 – 6pm
Saturday 29 DecemberDinner at Bimbadgen Winery, Pokolbin, 6:30 – 8pm
Sunday 30 DecemberChatswood Medical and Dental Centre, 3-4pm
Monday 31 December- New Year’s DayRoyal North Shore Emergency Department, 11pm – 1am

Australia – ACT – Update on measles in the ACT

The individual is in isolation at the Canberra Hospital and in line with the national guidelines, Health Protection Service staff are currently contacting people who have been in contact with the person.

Dr Kelly said this was the first case of measles to be notified in the ACT in 2019.

“We believe the individual is likely to have acquired the infection from the measles case reported in the ACT in mid-December,” Dr Kelly said.

“As the person did not attend any public venues or events in the ACT whilst infectious, we are advising the community that there is minimal risk of exposure to the general public.

“Contacts with the individual have been able to be identified and ACT Health staff are following-up with these people directly.

“As the individual travelled in NSW between Christmas and the New Year, we are working closely with NSW Health, who are also providing information to their local communities,” Dr Kelly said.

As Measles can be highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised, ACT Health is taking the opportunity to reiterate important health advice on measles and to know the symptoms. These include a fever, tiredness, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed up by a rash.

Anyone with symptoms of measles should seek medical advice, advising their health care provider before they arrive so that appropriate infection control precautions can be put in place to stop the spread of the infection.

People generally develop symptoms 7-18 days after being exposed to a person with infectious measles, with 10 days being more common. People are infectious from 4 days before they develop a rash until 4 days after.

The virus is spread from an infectious person during coughing and sneezing or through direct contact with secretions from the nose or mouth.

Whenever a case of measles is identified in our community, it is a strong reminder that the best way to protect yourself and your family against measles is vaccination.

Two doses of Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) are required for immunity against measles and are given to children in Australia at 12 and 18 months of age. However, the vaccine can be given at any age after 9 months.

With many travelling over the holiday period in the next few weeks, we are encouraging people to check their immunisation status and get up to date if needed before travelling.

For further information about measles, visit the ACT Health website.