The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue — Edward R Murrow
It was supposed to be an all-day training event, a duplex in poor condition used for firefighter training and then allowed to burn to the ground. When fire hit the attic a few hours into the session on Rapids Street today, commanding officers gave the order to halt the training and let the house burn. It was something Roanoke Rapids Fire Department Chief Gary Corbet and Halifax Community College fire and EMS instructor Kevin Kupietz prepared for. “That’s why we have all the lines on the ground,” Corbet said.
Kupietz said because the fire hit the attic early, there was no reason to continue the training and risk injury to a firefighter. Had it been a real fire, firefighters would have attacked it, Corbet said, instead, firefighters stayed on both sides of the building to keep the radiant heat from melting vinyl on neighboring property. The fire department notified people in the neighborhood of the live burn several weeks in advance, handing out flyers They also removed windows from the structure, stabilized the floor and cleared bushes. Many people from the neighborhood came out to watch, many bringing lawn chairs and taking photos of the event. Dean Van Dyke, who just moved in across the street, had coffee and doughnuts ready for the firefighters.
“I have an appreciation for anyone who works for a living,” he said. Corbet explained the owner of the duplex requested the fire department burn the building. “It was run down,” he said. “The flooring was collapsed and the joists were rotting.” For the fire department, it was chance to do several types of training. “We do like the opportunity,” Corbet said. “We have several new firefighters who haven’t had the chance for live training.” With assistance from the Davie Volunteer Fire Department, which supplied tankers, the fire departments and the Roanoke Valley Rescue Squad were ready for a full day of training. They planned rapid intervention drills simulating situations where firefighters were trapped.
“We’re trying to help the fire department with rapid intervention and getting firefighting experience,” said Brian Hux of Roanoke Valley. Thus far there have been no situations calling for the rapid intervention team, Hux said. “Roanoke Rapids has been quiet. They haven’t had any structure fires that required an internal attack. It’s been quiet, which is a good thing.” They were able to get some training in before the fire reached the attic and compromised the safety of the house for training. During one session, one firefighter sustained a mild burn to the back of his neck when overhead flames licked his neck. The firefighter, Richard Cooke was OK and was treated at the scene. Soon after, the fire reached the attic and the training was called off. “We expected it,” Corbet said, “Because of the condition of the house."
Friday, September 18, 2009 (This is an archived file, this is not recent news)
A case of swine flu was confirmed in Halifax County Thursday, the health department said today. County Health Director Lynda Smith there was no reason for alarm. “We don’t have a pandemic,” she said. Sharon Arquilla, TB program coordinator and H1N1 clinical liaison for the health department said in an email to The Spin, “Whether or not we have ‘confirmed’ cases in Halifax county is really not so much the issue. “I say this because we fully expect to have H1N1 activity in our county, and have had some suspect and probable activity during the summer. Also the confirmation of those cases will be public info on the sites you may already be monitoring.” Arquilla said for the most part, laboratory confirmed cases of H1N1 will not represent the number of actual cases, as the state recommended testing protocol recommends testing in very limited situations, such as a hospitalized patient. This is because of the number of cases throughout the country and the world for that matter. “Once it was determined that there was sustained human-to-human transmission back in the spring, testing became less of an issue and more of a logistical problem — too many tests and the widespread nature of the illness.” The presumption became that a person with "influenza like illness" — sudden onset of fever, cough, sore throat during the time of year which was not "seasonal flu" season, would be "clinically" diagnosed with having "probable" H1N1 flu. “This is satisfactory and is the guidance from the CDC, as the treatment is the same for both H1N1 and regular seasonal flu,” she said. “Which is actually very little medical treatment unless there are complications, as influenza is viral and thus has no cure but the body heals itself.” Arquilla said people who become ill with these symptoms need to stay at home, drink plenty of fluids, rest, and may take a product such a Tylenol for fever if they normally take such a medication. Children should never be given aspirin for fever. People should monitor sick children for trouble breathing or looking blue or gray, refusing all fluids, or not urinating as normal. Monitor for changes in activity also, sick children may be quieter than normal, but seek help if a child is lethargic or highly irritable. If the child has a known medical condition that puts them at high risk for complications, contact the child's doctor for further guidance or seek emergency help as needed. Basically the same advice for adults. There is no special recommendations for contacts to sick people, and normal hygiene measures such as good hand washing and use of hand sanitizers, covering cough with tissues and keeping personal objects clean and not sharing such items. “Just all the good old fashioned advice we always give to prevent the transmission of any illness such as seasonal flu. Contacts should monitor themselves closely for the development of symptoms and self isolate in the home as well. “Anti-viral medications are not being recommended for contacts unless they are at high risk for complications, but people should consult their own physicians for exact recommendations, and those with significant underlying medical conditions would have a provider with whom they are familiar.” It is also recommended that children stay home from school and adults away from their work place until at least 24 hours after fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medication. Arquilla said she has personally spoken with many local school officials and nurses and is confident in their level of preparedness and vigilance for influenza-like illness in local schools both public and private.