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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Doc and O2X: A Formula for Success

Doc and O2X: A Formula for Success 

Diane V. Cunningham, Assistant to the Public Information Officer

Current day "Doc"
As part of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department’s initiative to focus on the wellness and fitness of our members, the third O2X Human Performance Program was held in April 2019. The core objective of O2X of is to help firefighters and other tactical athletes improve their physical and mental readiness and increase their productivity. This revolutionary training and education program is saving lives and building healthier, safer communities.

Firefighter/Medic Captain, Brian “Doc” Dougherty, 19-year member of the Department, has lost 20 pounds as a result of his participation in the O2X program. When asked what motivated him to give the program a try, he stated, “Initially, it was that the Department was putting on this program and wanted everyone to go through it. But on a more personal note, I had gotten to a point where I wanted to be in better physical condition. So, here was the Department offering something to actually give me guidance to accomplish this goal.”

Captain Dougherty boasts of having an overall sense of wellness. “I feel better and am able to do more stuff, which is essential in this profession. When I became a firefighter, I was already older than the individuals who started recruit school with me,” he says. “As an officer, I want to be both a source of encouragement and a role model to those who are just getting started in this profession. If I can inspire them—even if only one—to take their physical welfare seriously, they will likely have long and healthy careers.”

For Doc, getting a handle on his eating habits—what, when, and how much—was the most challenging part of the program. “There is no definitive break time in this career. In most instances, you have to eat when you can. Knowing that at any moment an alert could sound for an incident, you tend to gorge. Some of those days, you don’t run the calls that would allow you to burn off all the food you ate. Over time, shift after shift of undisciplined eating is naturally going to cause the numbers on the scale to rise,” he explained.

“One of the things I learned in the O2X program that really works for me is to drink water before meals. Your stomach is the size of your fist, and since your body is mostly water, you fill up pretty quickly. As much as possible, making healthier food choices is best. However, if you’re not eating the healthiest foods, it’s likely you won’t eat as much if you drink water first.” Doc understands as well
as the next person that there will be times when we are going to eat what we like, healthy or not. “Having some of the not so healthy foods I like,” he says, “is not so bad as long I don’t overindulge. The idea is discipline and moderation, not deprivation.”

The O2X program is a holistic approach to mind and body wellness. Each participant receives the same information but uses it in the way that best works for them. Captain Dougherty lives five miles from Fire/EMS Station 818 where he is assigned. Prior to transitioning to shiftwork, he began riding his bicycle to work every day. “I now bike on my days off, often putting in 30 to 50 miles on some days. I’ve even found a group that rides on the weekend!” he said.

Although Doc was active prior to beginning O2X, he admits that his level of activity was not compensating for what he was eating. The result, of course, was weight gain. He attributes the program with helping him confront his poor eating habits. “This,” he says, “was the key part for me. As I stated previously, each participant uses the information in the way it best suits them. This was my take away from the program.”

Each participant in the program was given a textbook and a workbook that allowed them to track their progress. Doc says, “Taking the information to heart and applying it is really what determines a successful outcome for the participant.” The O2X program’s methodology—Eat. Sweat. Thrive. —addresses the heightened stress levels, work/life balance issues, high-risk activities, and disproportionate rate of job-related injuries that have long been accepted as part of the day-to-day lives of firefighters. “It is imperative that all three components are in place. I was exercising, and I still gained weight. Healthy eating, exercise, and mental wellness all go hand-in-hand,” says Doc.

Today, Captain Dougherty weighs eight pounds less than when he began his career with the Fire/EMS Department 19 years ago. “I feel great, have more energy, and am in better shape now than I was at the start of my career,” he says. When asked if he would recommend the O2X program, he responded, “I absolutely would recommend the program. However, the most important thing is to get started with whatever programs or tools that are available to you. If you keep in mind that success is not the destination but the journey along the way, you will do just fine.”

Monday, October 21, 2019

National School Bus Safety Week

The week of October 21st-October 25th is National School Bus Safety Week. This public education campaign focuses on the importance of school bus safety, especially when it comes to other drivers on the road. 
The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department is proud to support the Maryland Center for School Safety and the National Association of Pupil Transportation and do its part to make sure drivers are aware of the law and the importance of school bus safety. 
"We are requesting the help of our partners and the entire community in reminding all drivers about school bus stop arm safety," said Maryland Center for School Safety Executive Director Kate Hession. "We have placed messaging in all of the Motor Vehicle Administration service centers throughout the state and launched a new school bus safety public service announcement on social media, television, and digital billboards to remind drivers to STOP for any school bus with its flashing lights on and stop arm extended.”
In Maryland, it is illegal to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended when it has stopped to load or unload students. The law states that if a school vehicle has stopped on a road and is operating the alternately flashing red lights, the driver of any vehicle following or approaching the school bus must stop at least 20 feet from the front or rear of the school vehicle. Failure to stop for the bus can result in up to a $500 fine, three points on a driver's license, and increased insurance rates.
For more information on National School Bus Safety Week, visit www.napt.org/nsbsw. You can also follow the Maryland Center for School Safety on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all week to share their information and tips at hashtag #NSBSW.
Poster designed by Shivangi Ojha, an 8th Grader at Belton ISD in Temple, TX.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Effective Press Briefings

We previously discussed the four types of emergency alert and warning systems used by public safety agencies. When faced with a disaster, crisis situation or working incident, it is important to quickly provide the media with as much information as possible. A press briefing is a logical next step once an emergency alert has been communicated. More informal than a press conference, press briefings are used to give updates during a developing event. In our latest blog post, Mark Brady revisits our webinar, “Time-Critical: Communicating Effectively During Disasters and Major Incidents,” and discusses strategies for press briefings – information, timing and best practices.

If you’d like to share on your personal social media account(s), below are sample posts:

  1. A press briefing is the next step following an emergency alert. Here are 5 essential types of information to provide the public: https://www.lexipol.com/resources/blog/strategies-for-effective-press-briefings-during-critical-incidents/
  2. Press briefings are a way to build trust with the public through accurate, timely information. Consider these best practices for critical incident communication:https://www.lexipol.com/resources/blog/strategies-for-effective-press-briefings-during-critical-incidents/
  3. “One message, many voices.” An agency’s message to the public should be consistent no matter who is speaking: https://www.lexipol.com/resources/blog/strategies-for-effective-press-briefings-during-critical-incidents/
  4. Press briefings are essential for providing timely information to the public following critical incidents. Learn how to effectively communicate your message: https://www.lexipol.com/resources/blog/strategies-for-effective-press-briefings-during-critical-incidents/

Thank you!

Lauren Woodyard

Marketing Specialist
Office: 469-731-0858 


Mark E. Brady
Chief PIO
Prince George's County Maryland Fire/EMS Department
Twitter: @PGFDPIO

10 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

10 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? Let's face it, it can be a nightmare. Skip the stress and keep your pets safe this year by following these 10 easy tips.

Teddy and Baylee enjoying Halloween before going indoors for Trick or Treaters - Mark Brady - PGFDPIO

1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets.

All forms of chocolate—especially baking or dark chocolate—can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoningmay include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. “Xylitol ingestion can also cause liver failure in dogs, even if they don’t develop symptoms associated with low blood sugar,” adds Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it's better to be safe than sorry.

2. Don't leave pets out in the yard on Halloween.

Vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution. Make sure your black cats are safely housed indoors around Halloween. 

3. Keep pets confined and away from the door.

Indoors is certainly better than outdoors on Halloween, but your door will be constantly opening and closing, and strangers will be on your doorstep dressed in unusual costumes. This, of course, can be scary for our furry friends, which can result in escape attempts or unexpected aggression. Putting your dog or cat in a secure crate or room away from the front door will reduce stress and prevent them from darting outside into the night…a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

4. Keep glow sticks away from pets.

While glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween night, they can add some unwanted drama to the holiday if a pet chews one open. “Thankfully, the liquid inside glow sticks is non-toxic, so it won’t actually make pets sick,” Coates says, “but it does taste awful.” Pets who get into a glow stick may drool, paw at their mouth, become agitated, and sometimes even vomit. Coates recommends that if your pet does chew on a glow stick, “offer some fresh water or a small meal to help clear the material out of the mouth.”

5. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach.

While small amounts of corn and pumpkin can be fed safely to many pets, ingesting uncooked, potentially moldy Halloween pumpkins or corn displays can cause big problems. Gastrointestinal upset is a possibility whenever pets eat something they aren’t used to, and intestinal blockage can occur if large pieces are swallowed. Coates adds that “some types of mold produce mycotoxins that can cause neurologic problems in dogs and cats.” So, keep the pumpkins and corn stalks away from your pets. And speaking of pumpkins…

6. Don't keep lit pumpkins around pets.

If you are using candles to light your jack-o-lanterns or other Halloween decorations, make sure to place them well out of reach of your pets. Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or causing a fire.

7. Keep electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations out of reach.

Electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations are certainly safer than open candles, but they still can present a risk to pets. Pets who chew on electrical cords can receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock or burn. Batteries may cause chemical burns when chewed open or gastrointestinalblockage if swallowed. Shards of glass or plastic can cause lacerations anywhere on the body or, if swallowed, within the gastrointestinal tract.

8. Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know they'll love it.

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn't dangerous or simply annoying to your pet. Costumes should not restrict movement, hearing, eyesight, or the ability to breathe. Coates warns that pets who are wearing a costume should always be supervised by a responsible adult so that if something goes wrong, it can be addressed right away.

9. Try on pet costumes before the big night.

Don’t wait until Halloween night to put your pet in a costume for the first time. “Any time you want to introduce your pet to something new, it’s best to go slowly,” Coates says. Get your pet costumes early, and put them on for short periods of time (and piece by piece, if possible). “Make it a positive experience by offering lots of praise and treats,” Coates adds. If at any time, your pet seems distressed or develops skin problems from contact with a costume, consider letting him go in his “birthday suit.” A festive bandana may be a good compromise.

10. IDs, please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that he or she will be returned. Collars and tags are ideal if a Good Samaritan is able to collect your wayward pet, but microchips offer permanent identification should the collar or tag fall off. Just make sure the information is up-to-date. Use Halloween as a yearly reminder to double check your address and phone number on tags and with the company who supports pet microchips.



NOVEMBER 25, 2013
Walk safe and be seen this Halloween

Washington, D.C.– Halloween might be scary for different reasons than you think.  On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year.  With a few tips and tricks, kids can stay safe while out walking.  Safe Kids Worldwide and FedEx Express® urge parents to prepare their children to walk safely, and remind drivers to be particularly alert this Halloween.
“On Halloween, more children are on the street after dark than normal, and they are so excited that they may run out into the street without thinking,” said Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Drivers need to take extra care and slow down on neighborhood roads. And, of course, it’s very important that drivers put down mobile devices to avoid distraction.”
Safe Kids and FedEx are teaming up to keep kids safe on Halloween.  Across the country, 156 Safe Kids Coalitions, with support from FedEx volunteers, will provide reflective materials and safety information to children and parents. Children are encouraged to wear the reflective material on Halloween night to increase their visibility to drivers.
“Parents need to talk to their children about watching out for cars while trick-or-treating,” says Carr. “And make sure that their costume has something reflective on it so cars can see them.  You could even have kids put on a glow stick necklace or a reflective slap bracelet.”
Safe Kids and FedEx recommend these top tips to keep kids safe on Halloween. 
Top safety tips for kids:
  • Costumes can be both creative and safe. The most important thing is to make sure you can be seen by driversDecorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Masks can obstruct your vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible. Carry glow sticks or flashlights so you can see better, as well as be seen by drivers.
  • Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths.If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Slow down and stay alert - Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and don’t dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.
Top safety tips for drivers:
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
  • Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Reduce any distractionsinside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
In 2000, Safe Kids Worldwide and program sponsor FedEx Express launched the Walk This Way Program in the United States to educate motorists and child pedestrians and create safer, more walkable communities.  Safe Kids and FedEx address the issue through research, physical improvements to school zones, and education and awareness campaigns throughout the year.
For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween, and throughout the year, visit www.safekids.organd visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/safekidsusa.
About Safe Kids Worldwide
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the United States and in 23 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 55 percent. Working together, we can do much more for kids everywhere. Join our effort at safekids.org.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Fire Chief Message: Firefighter Jesse W. McCullough, lost this day in 2018

May the distance of time in no way diminish our resolve to ensure that our Fallen Heroes are never forgotten.  Let us pause to remember our Fallen Hero from the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department, Firefighter Jesse W. McCullough, lost this day in 2018.

Jesse was born on November 8, 1976, in Massachusetts.  He was a traveler as well as a talented and respected artist, having graduated from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. He joined the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department as a volunteer in 2007 and was hired on February 11, 2013, as a member of Career Recruit School 47. 

In January of 2017, McCullough became ill and was soon thereafter diagnosed with colorectal cancer.  He fought this battle as he lived, with all that was in him. He died on October 9, 2018.

Jesse served the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department for nearly 11 years.  At the time of his death, Jesse McCullough was 41 years old and survived by his wife and their two beautiful daughters.

Let us learn from their stories so that our safety today stands as a lasting tribute to those who have gone before us.  And let us keep their memory forever in our hearts.

Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale

Monday, September 9, 2019

Scholarships and Special Projects Awards Available for Emergency Responders

Yvorra Leadership Development Foundation, Inc. 

2446 Azalea Road 
Port Republic, Maryland 20676 

yld@chesapeake.net www.YLD.org 

Press Release 9/5/19 


CONTACT: Mike Hildebrand, 443-968-0862 

The Yvorra Leadership Development Foundation (YLD) is currently accepting applications for its 2019 Scholarships and Special Projects related to leadership development. The awards are in memory of Deputy Fire Chief James G. Yvorra, Emergency Medical Technician Donald E. Sellers, and Chief John M. Eversole. Any active career or volunteer Fire, Rescue, EMS, or Emergency Management member or active duty or reserve U.S. military member who serves in an emergency response position is eligible. 

Annual awards are approximately $2,500 each and three awards will be issued totaling $7,500. In addition to one award for firefighters, there is an award set aside for Hazardous Materials Responders and one for Emergency Medical Service Responders. Special awards of greater value may be issued for leadership development related special projects proposed by individuals or groups. 

Since 1989, YLD has awarded $195,000 to 102 award recipients.

To request an application go to http://www.yld.org and click “Applications”. The deadline for applications is October 30, 2019 and awards are usually announced in late December.

Providing financial support for 31 years to qualified applicants to pursue advanced leadership development training and education.

Yvorra Leadership Development (YLD) is a non-profit private foundation designed to promote leadership development among members of the fire, hazardous materials, and emergency medical services communities. The Foundation was created to continue the efforts of DFC James G. Yvorra who dedicated his life's work to the betterment of fire and emergency medical services.

Individuals may apply for scholarships or groups may apply for funding for a leadership related project. The selection criteria include:

·      Potential for the applicant to have a positive impact upon the future of his or her organization and the emergency services community, especially as it relates to developing future leaders.
·      Demonstrated strong commitment to professionalism and becoming a good leader in the emergency services through training and education.
·      Currently serving as an active duty civilian or military career or volunteer firefighter or emergency management officer.
·      Analysis of three letters of recommendation submitted with the application.

Consideration will be given to any individual with a level of experience ranging from firefighter, company officer, chief officer, or emergency management officer.

Applicants may also apply for the Donald E. Sellers Scholarship for Emergency Medical Responders and the Chief John M. Eversole scholarship for Hazardous Materials Emergency Responders. For complete information and an application, please visit: www.YLD.org and be sure to visit us on Facebook!

How You Can Donate

The Yvorra Leadership Development Foundation welcomes contributions from individuals, groups, and corporations who share YLD's goals and objectives. The Foundation also accepts special financial contributions to support the long-term goals of the organization. Examples include bequeaths, royalties through publications, grants, and endowments. Please contact Michael Hildebrand, YLD President, at YLD@chesapeake.net, or donate online at:


All contributions are tax deductible. The Yvorra Leadership Development Foundation (YLD) is a non-profit, tax exempt organization. The Foundation operates under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) and 509(a) of the Code.

YLD Challenge Coin

In 2016 the Yvorra Leadership Develop Foundation minted its first challenge coin. The front of our challenge coin shows the Foundation’s logo, date of founding, and our web site address. Each coin is numbered. Issue #1 is shown in the photo.

The obverse side of the coin shows the six primary attributes of becoming a good leader in the emergency services as determined from the opinions of our award recipients over the last three decades.

We will proudly send you one or more challenge coins for a donation of $25 per coin. This covers our production and mailing costs. Use the DONATE button on our website, select $25 or other amount. On the Checkout page you’ll see an “additional note” box for you to provide us with your name and mailing address.