Date: Sun, 30 Oct 2005 10:46:28 -0500
Reply-To: List Moderator <esf**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
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From: List Moderator <esf**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: Re: [NAOSMM] Need your opinion on fire procedures

From: "Alan Hall" 
Date: October 28, 2005 8:53:16 PM EDT
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] [NAOSMM] Need your opinion on fire procedures

Mr. Black,

First off, if there was a REAL fire, then all questions go by the  
board.  Ring the alarm, activate whatever you got for fire response,  
and get everybody the bloody Hell out of wherever it is...  BUT, if  
this is a diddly-squat thing, THEN... Did ALL the smoke go up the  
hood?  Then where's the smoke inhalation danger? (as Devil's advocate  
I work on smoke inhalation -- CO/CN issues and have researched them  
and cyanide antidotes for more than 20 years).

The simple questions:  IS anybody in danger?  What are the dangers of  
leaving (say in my case a long time ago) up to 80 experiments  
generating hydrogen bromide gas when the Chem Lab in the basement had  
had its HVAC and all hoods shut off unbeknownst to all of us (Bubba  
and Jim Bob in maintenance are alive and perhaps well, but...) and my  
colleagues in the Fire Service were NOT pleased?  Nor should they  
have been? NO!  There's a time to revert to the old "Run like Hell in  
the uphill, upwind, opposite direction" of whatever it is (from  
rattlesnake bites to nuclear plant releases and everything in  
between).  I can turn all members on to the Advanced Hazardous  
Materials Life Support Course, if anyone's interested; very good and  
internationally recognized, from the University of Arizona.

But I want to inject a word of caution in here.  You "cry WOLF!" too  
many times and sometime, soon, SOMEBODY is NOT not going to strap on  
his/her parachute or emergency escape ventilator, grab those the  
handles, and BAIL OUT! BAIL OUT! BAIL OUT! when it's the right time  
(and there will be a right time; the only question is WHEN?)  Because  
they've heard it too many times before; because it wasn't true then?,  
and why should it be NOW?  -- and MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, this is the  
RIGHT TIME -- DON'T PANIC may be good advice, but there's a time to  
run like Hell in the opposite direction.  Don't give the word, if you  
can, until it's the RIGHT word.  Interesting tee shirt a good guy  
from Australia had at the World Association of Disaster and Emergency  
Medicine this last May in Edinburgh, Scotland:  on the front:   
"Specialist is chemical and biological warfare: on the back:  "If you  
see me running, hold your breath and try to keep up!" (I seem to  
spend an increasing amount of my time trying to see that such things  
NEVER happen.)

And your fireman is not wrong; I've seldom known one to be, including  
me with me red card.

So it's easy to chase everybody outside, but consider the  
consequences if it isn't really necessary (half the time they don't  
even go; too many false alarms -- happened to me recently in a hotel  
in the Toronto area; everybody sat tight in the restaurant while the  
hooter went off and finally some good firefighters told us "no  
problem"  - I checked; I could have thrown my chair through the  
nearest window and been out of there in a parachute landing fall  
roll; but the rest of the clientele simply ignored it -- there's a  
lesson in there somewhere; and the rest is left as an exercise for  
the student). Perhaps we should save the "It's OK to Panic Now" part  
for when it REALLY IS!  Just a thought...seen too many of both mistakes.

Always was the "Voice of Reason"; doesn't mean I was always right or  
ever will be.

Alan H. Hall, M.D.
President and Chief Medical Toxicologist
Elk Mountain, WY
Clinical Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine and Biomterics
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Denver, Co

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