INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
By Paula Ratliff
[republished from the ASIS Cultural Properties Council Newsletter, Volume 2, March 2017]
Shelter in Place: A Security Concept That Every American Should Know
“Shelter in Place” is a relatively new concept that is taught by criminologists and law enforcement professionals. It is a precautionary term, aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors and in the area where you are, should you hear gunshots or explosions. While it is advisable, if you are close to an area with few or no windows and you can get there safely, that may be a good option. Otherwise, you need to take cover in the area where you are and wait for the all clear directive to be given by local law enforcement.
School teachers are trained on how to do this in the event of an active shooter. If a teacher hears gun shots and they cannot leave the classroom, they should immediately secure the room by locking and barricading the doors, covering and closing all windows and then securing the children under desks, furniture, book cases, etc. The concept is that you seek immediate shelter with whatever you have available until the “all clear” code has been given or until given instructions by local law enforcement officials. Some classrooms are equipped with an exit door, but exiting the door could be the wrong action and it is best to wait until you know it is safe to exit.
It is unfortunate that we must train school, hospital, church, retail and mall administrators, plant operators and others in crime prevention and safety measures. Yet, it is the reality of the world in which we live. We never know when someone is going to start shooting and the decisions you make in a split second could determine if you survive.
This past summer, I was speaking at a college in Cincinnati, Ohio when I asked the group of students, “What would you do if you heard gun shots?” The response was to look out the door to see where the shots originated. Well, that was a really wrong answer, and one that could get you killed immediately. If there is an active shooter, your head just appeared in their video game and they are taking you out! It is advisable that you do not go looking for an active shooter unless you are armed and ready to engage.
We have all watched in horror the videos of the lone-wolf terrorists, working at and/or with the instruction of ISIS leaders. They are becoming more aggressive in their approaches and will continue to target soft targets. Soft targets are things/areas that are not adequately secured. They find a weak spot in your security program and they target it. It is unfortunate, but we will always be vulnerable as criminals shoot up airports and drive trucks into crowds and enter schools, universities and restaurants. Workplace violence continues to increase and factories and businesses need to be proactive in security training and security perimeters.
If your company and/or business is not training employees on how to Shelter in Place, you need to begin this immediately. Consult your local law enforcement officials or a criminologist to assess your location and devise a plan of action. It is your responsibility to protect those that work for you and the failure to devise a plan could result in legal liability for you and your company.
By Gary Miville
[republished from the ASIS Cultural Properties Council Newsletter, Volume 2, March 2017]
As we work in our different areas throughout the United States there is a constant need for security professionals to network. We have organizations like ASIS International and the IFCPP which help us meet peer to peer but ultimately we need to enhance our ability strengthen our network to include the Federal government organizations. One organization that I have found especially helpful and insightful is InfraGard. InfraGard is an alliance for national infrastructure protection. This organization was formed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation around 2003 as a non-profit. InfraGard’s liaison and outreach efforts have developed close working partnerships, not only between the private sector and the FBI, but with other pivotal agencies, to include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Small Business Administration (SBA).
InfraGard partnership is an association of persons who represent businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement/public safety agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the U.S. The InfraGard National Members Alliance is comprised of 84 chapters representing over 50,000 vetted members, to include critical sector subject matter experts on protecting the 16 Critical Sectors. InfraGard provides its members with unmatched opportunities to promote the physical and cyber security of their organizations, through access to a trusted, national network of Subject Matter Experts from the public and private sectors and government stakeholders, at the local, state, and federal levels. InfraGard engages subject matter experts and address threat issues across each of the 16 sectors of critical infrastructures and key resources recognized by Presidential Policy Directive-21, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Infrastructure Protection Plan.
To become a member of InfraGard there are a list of requirements.:.
by Andy Davis
The setting for the inaugural International Arts & Antiquities Security Forum (IAAS-Forum 2016) could not have been better. The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts standing on the southern bank of the River Tyne mixed the historical culture of the region with a modern vibrant venue.
There was a wonderful blend of British and international delegates and speakers; some of whom had travelled from the USA specifically for the event, all networking before the start of the event.
The Chair of the IAAS-Forum Andy Davis (and Council member) opened the event before passing onto the event Keynote Speaker, Michael Huijser the Executive Director of the Dutch National Maritime Museum and a Dutch government museums advisor. Mr. Huijser truly set the scene for the speakers that followed by outlining the importance of security and the cultural world.
The opening section of the event really established the context for the Forum and showed the threats that exist both within the UK and internationally. Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Green discussed how organised criminal targeted UK museums and successfully got away with over artefacts worth over £57 million, very sobering. He was followed by Julian Radcliffe the CEO of The Arts Loss Register who outlined the international scale and terrorist use of art and antiques to fund their activities.
Andy was able to get some great audience participation by demonstrating how multiple layers of security can protect jewels; in this case ‘Ferrero Rocher’™ chocolates! This presentation was a great introduction to the next section which was led by Jim McGuffey who discussed the protection of places of worship and target hardening. This caused many of the audience to comment on the innovation put forward by Jim and the benefits of his presentation.
The next two presentations were provided by the Council International lead, Ricardo Sanz, who had flown in from Spain and Declan Garrett who had travelled from Dublin. What was interesting was that although both were discussing security operations Ricardo looked at historical and technical perspectives whilst Declan provided excellent reasons why organisations should invest in their security personnel and the broader benefits they can bring.
The next speaker is somebody whom many of the delegates were keen to hear and that was William Brown the National Security Advisor from the Arts Council. William, who is always smiling, discussed the security standards and best practises needed to qualify for the government indemnity scheme relating to loans of governmental artworks.
Finally, there was a panel discussion involving specialist support services for the arts and antiquities world. The panel consisted of Dr Nicholas Eastaugh, a scientist specialising in profile and authentication of arts, Annabel Fell-Clark the former head of AXA Art insurance and William Brown discussing the movement and transportation of art. Some really testing questions were asked of the panel but they were able to answer and educate the delegates I some pretty specific, but important topics.
In addition to the speakers there were exhibitors who had obviously been selected because of their services and support to the arts and culture sectors. There were specialist glazing providers, drone pilots, CCTV and barrier security manufacturers. The highlight of the exhibitors came in the form of one of the main event sponsors who demonstrated over the lunchtime the capabilities and effects of their fogging product; I can certainly vouch that I was blinded and unlike other cloaking devices did not leave any reside.
The Forum was closed by the event Chair with a promise of more to come in 2017. Drinks and canapés were served in the glass fronted lobby overlooking the beautiful Tyneside Quayside.
What struck me about the event was the quality of the speakers and the obvious thought that had been put into the content to ensure its relevance to as many of the delegates as possible; but without detracting from the theme behind the event. The delegates genuinely seemed to enjoy and appreciate the efforts and the whole nature of the event. Michael Hole, a Director with Vinovium Associates described it as, “The best seminar I’ve been to in years, with some really excellent speakers!” A sentiment that was echoed by many of the other delegates.
By Ricardo Sanz Marcos
El Consejo de Patrimonio Cultural de ASIS INTERNACIONAL está focalizado en la protección de instituciones dedicadas a la preservación, exhibición y administración de recursos culturales: museos, bibliotecas, archivos, organizaciones religiosas, centros de artes escénicas, jardines botánicos y cualquier instalación cultural que tenga como responsabilidad la protección de personas, colecciones de arte y otros bienes culturales.
El Consejo está constituido por profesionales de la seguridad que realizan su trabajo en instituciones culturales, y vuelcan su experiencia y buenas prácticas en recursos que ayudan en la Gestión de la protección del Patrimonio Cultural. Compartir conocimiento y apoyarnos entre los miembros del grupo, es realmente una característica fundamental de nuestro funcionamiento.
Como resultado de los esfuerzos del Consejo se han generados documentos* muy interesantes para la práctica de la seguridad en instituciones culturales como:
*Estos documentos, que contienen guías, casos de éxito y buenas prácticas, se pueden adaptar a cada cultura, país o región
**Definición de Casas de Culto: iglesias, sinagogas, mezquitas, casas de oración de diversos credos.
Desde mi primer encuentro con miembros del Consejo, en la reunión anual de ASIS en Atlanta en 2014, como Gary Miville, James Clark y Robert Carotenuto, vi de forma clara que la expansión internacional de ASIS, pasaba por generar grupos de trabajo con pertenencia cultural común y que el idioma era determinante. Y la cultura Hispano Americana /Latino Americana y el español deben formar uno de esos grupos de trabajo.
En la última reunión anual de ASIS INTERNACIONAL en Orlando, inicié los primeros pasos de constitución de un grupo de trabajo en español de nuestro Consejo de Patrimonio Cultural, a través de unas conversaciones con Gary Miville y Jaime Owens. Tuve la oportunidad de compartir y poner en relieve, el enorme potencial de los países de habla hispana en materia de Patrimonio Cultural y la oportunidad que supondría poder trabajar y hablar en español dentro de ASIS.
Los países de habla Hispana son verdaderas potencias en Patrimonio Cultural y su sostenibilidad (la Gestión de Seguridad es parte imprescindible de la sostenibilidad), aporta valor añadido en la generación de riqueza a nivel nacional.
Sin ir más lejos, este año se presentará un Proyecto sobre la Protección de Yacimientos Arqueológicos, en el que hemos colaborado miembros de Estados Unidos y de España. Este trabajo generará un documento en inglés y español que pretender ser la referencia mundial sobre la seguridad en los Yacimientos Arqueológicos.
A este naciente grupo de trabajo en español será bienvenido cualquier profesional que quiera aportar su conocimiento y experiencia y pertenecer a un colectivo realmente internacional especializado en la protección del Patrimonio Cultural.
Como objetivo más inmediato, hemos fijado la reunión anual de ASIS que este año se celebra en Dallas, Tejas, Estados Unidos, para mantener los primeros contactos presenciales de los miembros del grupo de trabajo en español del Consejo de Patrimonio Cultural. Mientras tanto, estoy a su disposición para entre todos hacer del español un idioma común en ASIS.
Nos vemos en Dallas.
FEMA Fact Sheet
Cherished family heirlooms that survive a fire are often covered with soot and ash, requiring prompt and gentle attention to avoid further damage. The Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a coalition of 42 national organizations and federal agencies co-sponsored by FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution, offers these basic guidelines from professional conservators for those who are searching for, and finding, family treasures amid the ruins.
After a Fire
General Handling Advice
Some Simple Cleaning Tips
Some Important Considerations
Contact a Conservator
Recovering items damaged by a fire is challenging. If a precious item is badly damaged, a conservator may be able to help. To locate a peer-reviewed conservator, click on the "Find a Conservator" box on the home page of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), www.conservation-us.org. Also, you could contact the conservation/preservation department of a major museum, library, or archives for advice or contact the National Heritage Responders (formerly AIC-CERT), the specially trained team of the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation.
Beware of Increased Flood and Mudslide Risks
One of the lesser known but critical considerations following a wildfire is the increased risk of floods and mudslides, even in areas far away from the fire. Properties directly affected by fires, as well as those located below or downstream of impacted areas, are most at risk, including many properties not previously considered as having a moderate or high flood risk. Residents in areas susceptible to flash or winter flooding, or in areas of extensive wildfires, need to prepare in advance for possible flooding.
Advice by Phone
A number of organizations offer free telephone advice following an emergency or disaster:
The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation's emergency response team, the National Heritage Responders (formerly AIC-CERT) offers a 24/7 emergency hotline: 202-661-8068
Regional Alliance for Preservation (RAP) is a national network of nonprofit organizations with expertise in the field of conservation and preservation. Individual member organizations offer free emergency advice, many on a 24/7 basis. Click on the link to locate your nearest organization.
For More Information
After the Fire! Returning to Normal. FEMA FA-46/ August 2012.
Soot and Ash Segment from the Field Guide to Emergency Response video. Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation. A short video walks you through salvaging items damaged by soot and water.
Fire. Chicora Foundation.
Rebuilding After a Wildfire. FEMA Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration Fact Sheet.
Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution co-sponsor the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a partnership of 42 national service organizations and federal agencies created to protect cultural heritage from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies.
To download the PDF of this FEMA Fact Sheet click here.
Disruptive museum visitors pose many potential threats to an institution. At a minimum, they create a disturbance that may upset other visitors and interfere with the museum experience. Worse, they might create serious public safety dangers for other visitors and museum staff. They may jeopardize the building or objects in the collection. And depending on how the disruptive situation is handled, they may seriously impact the museum’s reputation with the public.
The first step of the process is to draft a policy to which everyone can agree. Meet with staff and administrators to determine a set of rules which in an extreme situation could result in visitors being asked to leave the facility. Your policy should be posted in an area that is easily accessible and visible to the general public. As a precaution, the museum’s legal team should judiciously review the policy before you disseminate it. Finally, it is important that your staff assimilates such rules and consents to a policy designed to deal effectively with disorderly or aggressive patrons.
The second step is to ensure that your museum has a system in place to recognize and report disruptive behavior. Gallery guards are typically the first to encounter unruly visitors, but literally every staff member should be trained to quickly assess situations and evaluate the severity of the behavior. Video surveillance is essential to monitor galleries in which personnel is not present. First-hand observation of any incidents observed by staff or on video is the most appropriate means of determining whether or not an individual should be confronted.
It is important to recognize that there are several types of unacceptable behavior that require different types of response. For example, a visitor might be confused and accidentally open a restricted access door. A staff member’s response might be to say, “Excuse me. May I help you?” Polite words make the visitor aware of the given violation with a minimum of distress or humiliation. Courtesy is paramount, and the dignity of the visitor must be respected. Inform the individual that their actions are prohibited by the institution and request that they refrain from repeating that specific behavior.
If visitors refuse to comply or if they were previously advised that they would be asked to leave should they repeat their behavior, then they immediately become a candidate for removal from the site. At this point the behavior would mandate escalating the response by enlisting the support of a site supervisor, security manager, or security officer in charge. Your institution’s policies should dictate the actions necessary for removing a visitor, and it is much easier to do so if the visitor was apprised of the policies earlier in the visit.
When confronting a visitor, use an appropriate and calm approach. Your approach must be strategic in nature, never in a manner that can be perceived as hostile or threatening. This will only agitate the visitor and perhaps lead to more disruptive or dangerous behavior. Your approach should follow these simple steps:
A. Create distance. You never want to be in a position where a visitor can get the upper hand and catch you off guard. For this reason you should be no closer than six to eight feet from the visitor at all times.
B. B. Assume what is commonly known as the “interview stance.” This position involves keeping your arms at rest between your navel and slightly below your chest in a comfortable position. Typically, the palm of one hand rests on the backside of your opposing hand. With the combination of distance and body language, you are now in the best position for protecting yourself. If you are uncomfortable approaching an individual, you should call for back-up and notify your supervisor immediately.
C. Observe whether the visitor has a weapon. If the disruptive visitor is carrying a weapon or even a potential weapon (such as an umbrella or cane), you must take extreme care in deciding whether to confront. Immediately call for backup and wait for it to arrive before proceeding.
Your museum’s public safety plan should specify who has the authority to order someone removed from the premises. This may be a staff supervisor, security manager, or other trained staff who can handle stressful situations in a calm manner. To remove someone from the museum, first ask the visitor to leave voluntarily. If he or she does not comply, tell the visitor that police will be dispatched. Often the threat of arrest is all it takes for the visitor to comply. In certain situations security personnel might escort the individual to the nearest public exit. Your policy should determine procedures for escorting a visitor. Do not make the mistake of putting your hands on a visitor for any reason. The only legitimate reason for using force is to protect oneself. This should only be used as a last resort.
If the visitor attempts to re-enter the building, continues the disruptive behavior, or threatens to use a weapon, you should immediately call the police.
Planning and proper training are essential to protect the valuables of an institution and ensure public safety. Make sure you establish policies and review them regularly with all staff. Establish procedures for approaching a disruptive visitor, with personal safety as the highest goal. Follow your institution’s procedures for ejecting visitors. Determine if staff supervisors, security, or police officers are going to be used and, if so, what level of response must be employed. Try to de-escalate the situation if possible in order to resolve any issues quickly and professionally.
Stress is inevitable in the case of disorderly visitors. With prescribed rules in place, your museum can respond in a non-hostile manner and with respect for the dignity of the individual. This will minimize any disruption and help the museum return quickly to a more peaceful state. Your staff and visitors will thank you for your professional response to a troubling situation.
-Austin Sharpe, CIPM
President IFCPP NE
Director of Security
The Addison Gallery of American Art
by Steven C. Millwee, CPP (President and CEO of SecurTest, Inc. and iReviewNow, LLC)
Federal District Court rules that transmitting background reports, FCRA rights, and pre and post adverse action notices to a candidate by means, such as iReviewNow and mail meets legal obligations. This ruling further validates the revelatory vision behind the iReviewNow patents and intellectual properties.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, when an employer or user of consumer reports, as defined by the FCRA, is considering rejecting a candidate based on a background check (often referred to as a consumer report), it must follow certain “pre-adverse” action procedures. Specifically, the user must provide the applicant with a copy of his or her background report and a summary of rights under the FCRA, prior to taking “adverse action.” In Wright v. Lincoln Property Company, the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania definitively found that an employer is only obligated to send the applicant a copy of these documents; whether the applicant actually receives them is irrelevant. This ruling gives further credence to the three patents of iReviewNow, which electronically delivers the reports, FCRA rights, and notices to candidates. Though this case did not highlight iReviewNow, the ruling validates that iReviewNow patented electronic transmissions meets the FCRA obligations.
Plaintiff Lemuel Wright applied for a job with defendant Lincoln Property Company as a maintenance technician. In connection with this application, Lincoln procured a background check on Wright. Lincoln sent Wright an “in progress” copy of the background check that it had obtained from its background check vendor, along with a summary of rights under the FCRA. According to Lincoln, it sent this background check to the address where Wright lived and received mail at the time of his application. Wright, on the other hand, argued that the mailing of the background check does not satisfy the FCRA because he never actually received it.
The Court disagreed with Wright, noting that nothing in the text of the FCRA requires companies to ensure that a job applicant actually receives his or her pre-adverse action documentation. Rather, the statute simply requires the employer to “provide” the information. In the Court’s view, “[t]here is nothing in the statute” “establishing a requirement that the entity intending to take adverse actions take measures to ensure receipt.”
Despite this ruling, however, the Court denied Lincoln’s motion for summary judgment. Because the background report that Lincoln sent to Wright was an “in progress” version and not the final version, the Court held that there was an issue of fact as to whether Lincoln satisfied the requirements of the FCRA. This was the case, in the Court’s view, despite the fact that “[t]here are no material differences between the criminal history included” in the “in-progress” report and the “final” report.
iReviewNow – the new standard
The iReviewNow patents, copyrights, and trade secrets provide one-of-a-kind protections. It notifies the candidate by email and text messaging that his or her background report is ready to be previewed. The “PRE PRE” notice option, unlike a pre adverse action notices, allows candidates to view their background reports, ensure such are accurate and complete, or dispute any inaccuracies before the end-user takes adverse action. iReviewNow also automates the Pre-Adverse and Post Adverse Action steps, which are mandated by the FCRA. iReviewNow patents also allow the user to opt-in to use the EEOC Individualized Assessment Component. This section allows employers and users to consider the candidates explanations about their adverse history, such as criminal convictions, and steps taken to self-rehabilitate. California recently enacted a law requiring employers to use an Individual Assessment Component, similar to the EEOC guideline.
Alexandria, VA – Robert A. Carotenuto, CPP, PCI, PSP, CIPM, Associate Vice President, Security, The New York Botanical Garden, has been named the 2016 Council Chairman of the Year of ASIS International (ASIS), the leading association for security management professionals worldwide. Awarded annually since 1980, this prestigious award honors security leaders for their outstanding contributions to both ASIS and the security profession.
Carotenuto chairs the ASIS Cultural Properties Council, which serves as the leading resource for security education, outreach, and suggested protection for cultural institutions, including museums, libraries, faith-based organizations, performing arts centers, and cultural facilities. In this capacity, he advocates for global collaboration on security guidelines for all cultural properties.
“Robert’s leadership has been integral to the Council’s success. He helped expand its global reach, including publishing multilingual brochures; shepherded the grant to develop a Foundation CRISP report on the Clunia archeological Site in Spain, and increased the number of young professionals and women serving on the council,” said Les Cole, Sr., CPP, Consultant, Leslie Cole Associates, who nominated Carotenuto for the award. “In addition, he embodies the spirit of this award. He leads by example and his commitment to the profession is truly second to none.”
A 23-year industry veteran, Carotenuto leads a team of security professionals at The New York Botanical Garden, helping to safeguard 500 staff members, 24 buildings, and over one million visitors in a 250-acre urban oasis in the heart of the Bronx. Most recently, he created cost-effective solutions to protect world-class special exhibitions including Monet's Gardens; Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden Life; the annual Holiday Train Show and Orchid Show; and the upcoming CHIHULY.
“Being named Council Chairman of the Year validates the work of my fellow council members,” said Carotenuto. “Their enthusiasm in promoting the council’s activities and attracting new members, in writing great articles for our newsletter, as well as developing and publishing valuable white papers, made our council first amongst equals. My award is but recognition for their efforts.”
Carotenuto urges those working for or with cultural properties to get involved. “You will reap the benefits of peer discussions to learn best practices, foster friendships, and advance our profession. Whether you’re a young professional or seasoned practitioner, the Cultural Properties Council seeks your involvement and perspective.” Learn more at www.asisonline.org/councils.
About ASIS International
Founded in 1955, ASIS International (ASIS) is the world’s largest membership organization for security management professionals. With more than 240 chapters across the globe and 34 councils representing all industry sectors, ASIS is recognized as the premier source for security learning, networking, standards, and research. Through its board certifications, award-winning Security Management magazine, and the Annual Seminar and Exhibits—the most influential event in the profession—ASIS ensures its members and the security community access to the intelligence and resources, necessary to protect their people, property, and information assets. Learn more about the work we do at www.asisonline.org
A gallery that has used Art Guard sensors for several years contacted me regarding a trove of works on loan for a show. The value of these pieces exceeded anything they had exhibited before by tens of millions of dollars.
As America's opiate problem explodes, the nation's fire service finds itself on the front lines of a full-fledged public health crisis. As responders' resources are stretched and as opioid-related deaths climb, fire officials are faced with tough challenges: How much should the fire service be expected to do? And is there a better way to do it?
BY JESSE ROMAN
The 911 dispatcher’s updates blaring through the truck cabin grew increasingly darker as Daniel Goonan raced to the scene of a drug overdose last October—a desperate little boy; an unconscious mother dying on the kitchen floor; opiate use was suspected.
“You could hear the situation building over the radio—the operator talking to this nine-year-old, telling him how to do CPR on his mother,” Goonan, the fire chief in Manchester, New Hampshire, recalled. “This was a kid who was getting ready to go to school, eating his Cheerios, and all of a sudden he looks over to see his mother lying there purple.”
When Goonan and his team arrived, they administered naloxone hydrochloride, an opiate reversal medication that can almost immediately counteract the deadly effects of an opioid overdose—but after the first dose the woman remained motionless. After a second dose, her breathing finally returned, all while “the little boy is sitting there at the table,” Goonan said somberly.
For the Manchester Fire Department and for thousands of others in this opiate-riddled New England city of about 110,000, the scene has become common. Through the first 11 months of 2016, Manchester had 721 opiate overdoses—an average of more than two per day—and 88 opiate overdose deaths. The fire department and local ambulance services have administered nearly 1,000 doses of Narcan, the brand name for naloxone. More than 100 overdose victims have been found unconscious, barely breathing, and dying in hotels, restaurants, and other public buildings, or in parked cars—even while driving. At least 65 people have been brought back from the brink of fatal overdoses more than once in 2016, including eight cases where first responders revived the same person twice within 24 hours.
Goonan, a 32-year department veteran, grew up in Manchester, a brick-clad former mill city on the banks of the Merrimack River, and admits that drugs have always been prevalent here. “But I’ve never seen the problem so terrible,” he told me. “It’s like nothing I ever expected.”
The rise of opiate abuse is hardly unique to Manchester. Opiates in the form of prescription pills, heroin, and increasingly powerful synthetics like fentanyl have indiscriminately swept across the United States like a plague, infecting all types of communities—from rural hamlets in Appalachia and the rust belt to the nation’s largest cities—with equal ferocity. In 2015, the most recent year tracked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more that 52,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses, or about 144 each day, with the majority of those deaths opioid-related. Nationwide, fatal opioid overdoses increased 652 percent from 2000 to 2015, according to CDC statistics, and every indication is that the problem has grown worse in 2016. Many states have all but declared full-fledged public health emergencies.
The fire service is dealing with several challenges as the opioid crisis explodes. For one, call volume has risen with overdoses, leaving departments to bear a slightly heavier load, typically with the same or fewer resources. In addition, some departments have felt an economic toll as naloxone prices skyrocketed—from $6 per dose to $45 per dose since 2010, according to one chief interviewed for this story—as demand for the drug increases. To carry the slack, in some cases state and federal governments have provided funding to departments to purchase the medication, while in some communities private organizations have donated hundreds of doses of the life-saving drug.
For the typical line firefighter, the biggest change has perhaps been adjusting to an expanded role as the opiate crisis worsens. Previously, only paramedics or higher-level EMTs were allowed to administer drugs in most states; over the last couple of years, however, numerous jurisdictions have rushed to expand the types of responders allowed to carry and administer naloxone. Training and oversight have been ramped up as a result, and for the most part states and agencies have met the challenge to get members adequately trained before supplying them with the drug, said Thomas Breyer, a former firefighter and paramedic in Ohio who is now the director of Fire/EMS Operations at the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).
“Training is critical because this is a change for a lot of providers, and when you administer any kind of emergency services you want the responder to have some muscle memory—see it, do it,” Breyer said. “It’s not as simple as ‘here is a new medication, here’s how to deliver it,’ and then give them a pat on the back and let them go.”
Even with training and preparation, the crisis can at times overwhelm responders. Last August in Huntington, West Virginia, emergency responders saved 26 overdose victims in the span of less than four hours. In Marion, Ohio, a town of 35,000 people, the city fire and rescue department dealt with 30 overdose hospitalizations and two deaths during a frantic 12-day stretch in 2015.
“I hate to see Marion making the news because of this, but we need some help,” said Rob Cowell, the town’s fire chief. “We’ve picked up overdoses from people who were 14 years old all the way up to 67. It’s been all over town, across every socioeconomic class. It’s a national problem that we are trying to deal with on the local level, and we are swimming in it and having a hard time keeping our heads above water.”
SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS
In some places, it’s easy to see why fire departments might feel like they’re sinking. In Ohio, opiate-related drug overdose deaths increased a staggering 775 percent from 2003 to 2015, according to the Ohio Department of Health, growing from 296 deaths to 2,590. Massachusetts had 1,747 opioid drug deaths in 2015, up from 532 in 2010, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health. Similarly dramatic increases have occurred in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, Maine, North Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and elsewhere.
The opioid crisis and the changes it has brought for the fire service have produced frustration in some responders. Last February, a firefighter in Weymouth, Massachusetts, was suspended 90 days without pay for a Facebook post that suggested letting overdose victims die. “I for one get no extra money for giving Narcan and these losers are out of the hospital and using again in hours,” the post said. “You use, you should lose!” The department quickly issued a statement denouncing the post and said it did not reflect its philosophy or values.
The vast majority of firefighters and EMTs, however, have met the new challenge with resolve, viewing it as a necessary response to a community crisis. “We are an all-hazard department and so it really doesn’t matter what the problem is—if lives are on the line, we believe there is a social and civic responsibility to address it,” said Matthew Levy, the medical director of Howard County Fire Rescue, a county in Maryland located between Baltimore and Washington D.C. “Whether it is an evolving threat like terrorism or an infectious disease like Ebola, when the community calls on the fire service, we have that responsibility to respond. Saying it is not our problem is not the answer or a long-term solution.”
While difficult hurdles remain for some fire departments, most have adjusted and have handled the increased cost, training, and call volume resulting from the drug crisis, Breyer and others told me. It’s the personal toll that has been the hardest for some responders to overcome. Bringing a person back from the brink of death, only to find them blue and unconscious from another overdose a week later, is sometimes difficult to bear, they said. That’s the dark reality of the opiate epidemic that responders see every day.
“It causes first responders to say, ‘there has got to be a better way,’” Breyer said. “If I make the same run on the same guy week after week, we’re not solving any problem, we’re just making sure the same person doesn’t die. But we’re not helping these people all the way—this person needs treatment.”
The mounting desperation in communities has led many fire departments to think differently about the crisis and to assume a larger role in finding solutions. “It’s to the point here where folks begin to realize that this is not just a problem that someone else’s family has to deal with—we’ve had very tragic overdoses in this county, including family members, friends, and close relations of personnel at the fire department,” Levy told me. “When you look at the sheer numbers and impact on the community and put it in that perspective, you start to realize that we need to begin to craft more out-of-the-box strategies.”
One of the more innovative strategies is Manchester’s Safe Stations program. Beginning last May, drug addicts seeking help were invited to visit any of the Manchester Fire Department’s 10 fire stations—24 hours per day, seven days a week—to begin their road to recovery. The program works in partnership with a recovery center called Serenity Place, which is located adjacent to the central fire station downtown.
Chris Hickey, Manchester’s director of emergency services, got the idea for Safe Stations last spring when a relative of a Manchester firefighter showed up at a station looking for help. He was homeless, addicted, and desperate. “When he started talking to us it was apparent he was serious about getting help, but he said there was nowhere for him to go—he had made calls and went to a few websites, but nothing was happening,” said Hickey, a longtime EMS provider in the city. “I was doing some work at a local recovery center at the time. I contacted them and they said just bring him in.”
The experience gave Hickey an idea: instead of merely treating the symptoms of addiction by rushing around the city bringing addicts back from death, perhaps the fire department could play a larger role by getting addicts into treatment. Hickey took the idea to department leadership, and the program was up and running within weeks. According to Goonan, “We jumped into the program with both feet—our thinking was, ‘let’s stop talking and let’s start doing something.’” When addicts looking for help arrive at a Manchester fire station, they are greeted with a quick physical and mental health assessment. A counselor from Serenity Place is summoned to the station to meet with the patient, who can register on the spot in the center’s outpatient program. On average, a patient sees a licensed drug and alcohol counselor within 12 minutes of entering a fire station.
“When someone is ready to make a change you have to get them at that moment,” Goonan said. “They are greeted with no judgment, just a handshake and a comfortable place to go. Historically this is what the fire service does—help people.”
When the department first opened its doors to addicts, nobody knew what to expect. Goonan thought they’d see maybe five to 10 people a month. From May 4 to December 1, though, there have been a total of 821 visits to Manchester fire stations from people looking to get clean, an average of nearly four per day. Patients have ranged in age from 18 to 70, and have come from all over New Hampshire, as well as a substantial number from Maine, Massachusetts, and as far as Alabama. More than 400 patients have been brought into the Serenity Place recovery program through Safe Stations.
“Some use us as a first option, some as a last,” Hickey said. “A lot of people who come in are broken. They are mentally worn out, physically a mess. Many had made phone calls and got on waiting lists, but nothing happens and they end up frustrated.”
The proactive rather than reactive approach to the overdose epidemic has also lifted spirits inside firehouses, Hickey told me. At first, some firefighters were wary of the idea, and worried that violence might follow addicts into the stations. But in the nine months the program has been operating there hasn’t been a single incident. Instead, the program “has worked wonders for our department mentally,” Hickey said. “We were getting tired, angry, and frustrated going to dozens of overdoses every month, seeing families ripped apart, doing CPR, watching kids do CPR on their parents because they had overdosed. But these people are coming to us before they overdose, before they are dead, and it has quite unintentionally given everyone a boost.”
Goonan himself handles many of the intakes, like the 22-year-old woman with two young children suffering from endocarditis who, when asked her drug of choice, replied, “anything I can get my hands on.” Or the 61-year-old house painter who became hooked on pain medication when he hurt his back on the job and two years later was addicted to heroin and crack.
“He told me ‘I’m desperate for help, I’m going to lose everything I have ever had—my wife, my home, my children,’” Goonan told me. “We see people like him every day. I think the stigma is starting to lift a little bit. People are more willing to come in and admit they have a problem.”
Manchester Fire Department officials believe the program can work elsewhere and are helping others adopt it, including the nearby city of Nashua, which recently started its own version of Safe Stations, and a fire district in the Bronx that is planning to launch a pilot program this year.
Community engagement and cooperation from various public and private organizations, ranging from hospitals, safety agencies, health departments, local charities, and church groups, have been key to the program’s success, Hickey said. “We now have open lines of communication with all of these groups, which is a huge advantage,” he said. “I think that is one of the biggest first steps to addressing this issue.”
That holistic community approach is one others should try to emulate, said Breyer, the fire and EMS director at IAFF. “If we really want to solve the opioid epidemic, fire, EMS, and all these public safety agencies need to be a part of the bigger solution,” he said. “We all need to realize that we can’t operate in silos. We need public health, social services, mental health, fire—we need everyone working together through a network.”
Many fire departments across the nation are starting to take that approach. Beginning December 1, overdose victims transported to the hospital by fire and rescue in Marion, Ohio, are now met in the emergency room by a drug councilor, a significant shift for the city.
“It used to be that an overdose was charged with possession [of a controlled substance], but we’re not doing that any more. We’re just trying to get these people help,” Cowell said of the program, which has involved coordination between fire and rescue, police, and a local hospital and counseling center.
Howard County, Maryland, recently formed a community-wide drug task force with representatives from the fire department, police, health department, corrections, hospitals, and other stakeholders.
“We all see this problem from different angles, and so I think the most impactful thing we can do is come together to share ideas, observations, and trends,” Levy, the fire department medical director, told me. “We are trying to break down those barriers and begin to create a plan for a comprehensive solution.”
The group is working to create an interagency data dashboard where the various agencies can view each other’s information with the hopes of uncovering patterns that can lead to better-targeted intervention. They are also discussing policy changes, such as making naloxone nasal spray publically available in strategic places across the county for the public to use in overdose emergencies.
“This is not a problem that is going away soon—this is not Ebola, or Zika, not something that comes and goes,” Levy said. “This is a problem of epidemic proportions and it is going to be with us for a long, long time.”
It’s too early to know the impact these initiatives will have, but there’s no doubt it will continue to be an uphill slog. Despite efforts to combat the roots of the problem, initial estimates in Marion, Howard County, and Manchester are that each had a record-high number of opiate overdoses again in 2016. Marion had more overdoses and deaths through the first 11 months of 2016 than it did in all of 2015; Howard County averaged about 22 percent more opiate-related overdoses per month in 2016 than it did the year before; and in Manchester, total opiate overdoses were up about 6 percent through November compared with 2015.
But there’s hope, too, and signs that Safe Stations is making progress. From August through November, Manchester saw 51 fewer overdoses and five fewer deaths than it did during the same period in 2015. Goonan and Hickey are hopeful that the trend will continue, but they are also realistic about the foe they are up against.
“We could be trending lower for months, and the next thing you know a new dealer comes in with a new synthetic opiate and we have seven or eight deaths and people start saying it’s not working,” Goonan said. “But in my professional opinion we are certainly saving lives, and every time someone walks through our front doors we are giving them a real shot at recovery.”
ConferenceMembershipTraining & Certification
TRAINING & EVENTS
1305 Krameria, Unit H-129, Denver, CO 80220 Local: 303.322.9667
Copyright © 2015 - 2018 International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection. All Rights Reserved