Champion EMS EMT-trainee Casey Steenland, aged 33 died on Friday, August 13th in Texas, an apparent victim of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Three other Champion EMS members were treated, two required HBO (hyperbaric oxygen) according to local news sources. All four were apparently exposed to CO from an ambulance generator left running in crew quarters where they were sleeping. There were no CO detectors in the building.
We deeply regret the loss of our sister, Casey Steenland. I have long believed that every brother and sister who dies in the line of duty has a message they most certainly would like us to hear. It is our duty to honor these heroes by actively listening to their cry. As OSHA investigates the circumstances of this multiple victim CO incident in Texas, let’s take the immediate lesson that Champion EMS heard right away. Do your crew quarters have CO detectors? Every Champion EMS station had them by Friday afternoon. Your crew quarters need to have them by tonite.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committee on Ambulances balloting this week failed by one vote to move a draft “NFPA 1917, Standard for Automotive Ambulances” forward into the review and public comment process that would have rolled an ambulance design standard out the door during mid-2012.
At issue was inclusion of several AMD (Automobile Manufacturers Division of the National Truck Equipment Association) testing standards incorporated into the draft document without copyright release. While most likely an oversight by the non-legal eagles on the 1917 technical committee, redacting the AMD material from the draft standard (on the advice of NFPA counsel) left some rather large holes.
Had the draft been approved and forwarded this week to the NFPA Standards Council, it would have been released for public comment, closing November 23, 2010. Responses to comments would have been published June 24, 2011 opening an additional comment on the comments period ending August 30, 2011. A final draft would have been published February 24, 2012 and, depending on receipt of any official objections, have taken effect in either July or August 2012.
No word on how long the process will now be delayed, but returning the 1917 draft to committee will likely result in resolution of some significant gaps between the current General Services Administration (GSA) “triple K” or KKK ambulance purchasing specification and other ambulance design or purchasing standards, including AMD. Prior to the smack down resulting from this week’s failed balloting, it appeared the committee intended to use public commentary to steer several controversial decisions. Stay tuned for word on when the draft 1917 document might be resuscitated. The feds have made it abundantly clear that, if and when, an NFPA Ambulance Design Standard hits the pavement, they’ll cease issuing and updating triple K.
EMS Editor – Fire Engineering magazine
NFPA 1917 Technical Committee Member