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police, fire, rescue vehicles

Activities: Technical Assistance to Emergency Responders

Florida Department of Health Hurricane Response

The 2004 hurricane season hit the state of Florida with five storms in rapid succession. The 2005 season included several major storms as well as evacuees from the consequences of Katrina in New Orleans. At the end of the 2004 hurricane season, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) requested the assistance of NIOSH/CDC to assess the effects of the hurricane response on its personnel. A two-wave survey of the effects of the 2004 and 2005 seasons have been administered. Preliminary reports have been delivered to FDOH. Additional results are being analyzed and reports are being prepared.

Project contact: Dori Reissman
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(202) 401-3704
Project period: Continuing

Katrina and Rita Hurricane Response, 2005

In October 2005, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) requested technical assistance to determine the extent of physical symptoms and psychological consequences among police officers related to the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. Results from the initial survey not only assisted the NOPD, but were able to impact policy regarding officers nation-wide, who face disasters in their own communities. The initial report prompted the NOPD to request an on-going follow-up investigation using similar tools to learn about the chronic impact these types of natural disasters have on emergency responders.

Also in October 2005, in a similar manner, we were able to provide technical assistance to the Fire Department of New Orleans. A similar survey method evaluating physical and psychological consequences following work in Hurricane Katrina was used. Results of this survey and NIOSH recommendations were able to be distributed widely through the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and through scientific publications.

Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, NIOSH provided technical assistance to federal, state, and local agencies, including Jefferson Parish Emergency Medical Service (EMS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Park Service (NPS), and the City of New Orleans, whose first responders had numerous occupational safety and health needs. These included guidance on handling the deceased, confined space, thermal stress, electrical hazards, carbon monoxide, stress, structural instability, and infection control. NIOSH provided respiratory protection guidance for Fire Fighters potentially exposed to contaminated waters with overspray. NIOSH provided recommendations and written materials to local and state officials, working groups and managers, first responders, rescue, recovery, and cleanup workers.

NOPD Project contact: Bruce Bernard
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(513) 841-4589
Project period: Ongoing

NOFD Project contact: Tom Hales
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(513) 841-4583
Project period: 2005-2006