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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dry Christmas Tree Involved in Brandywine Home Fire with Injury

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Just before 9:00 pm, Thursday, 
January 5, 2012, firefighters from Baden and other surrounding communities, including units from Charles County, were alerted to a house fire. Fire/EMS units arrived on the scene in the 16200 block of Ashbox Road in Brandywine and encountered a 1-story single family home with heavy fire showing.

Firefighters initially fought the fire from the exterior of the home and than entered the structure to complete the extinguishment after the bulk of the fire had been knocked down. 

Two occupants were at home and both were able to exit the home prior to the Fire/EMS Department arrival.

An adult female occupant and her daughter sustained minor burns and singed hair were treated on the scene and transported to a local hospital for treatment. The injured occupant told firefighters that a small electrical short ignited the family Christmas tree.  The tree suddenly burst into flames causing her injury and spread quickly throughout the house.  She described the tree ignition as “exploding.”

The structure sustained extensive, if not total, damage and is uninhabitable. The family will be assisted by the County Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross with temporary shelter.  Fire loss estimates are still being tabulated.  A family pet, a 4-month old dog, is missing.

This incident should serve as a warning that if your “live” Christmas tree is still inside your house IT MUST BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY.  Warning - a tree that has already turned dry and brittle needs to be removed immediately to eliminate the increased probability of a fire.  The United States Fire Administration (USFA) states that as trees, which are in one-third of all households, dry out, the risk of fires increase. 

This video demonstrates just how quick a dry tree is consumed with fire compared to one that has-been well maintained.  All trees, regardless of maintenance, will dry out.  Remove your tree now and avoid any chance of this occurring in your home.

Remember “Safety First” ensures everyone goes home; it’s beyond time to remove the tree and keep your family safe.  This is a good time to remember to check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to ensure they are working. 

Once your tree is outside simply place it on your curb.  Never burn your discarded tree.

The Department of Environmental Resources (DER) and Waste Management Division (WMD) is offering recycling services to residents with County - provided yard waste collection.  If you live in an incorporated city or municipality, check with your local Department of Environmental Resources and Waste Management offices as many offer similar services.

PGFD PROFILE - Dr. Tracy Timmons - Road Doctor to Medical Scholar

Dr. Tracy Timmons
Road Doctor to Medical Scholar

By: Diane V. Cunningham, Public Information Office

When Tracy Alane Timmons showed up on Monday, February 8, 1993, for her first day of Career Recruit School (CRS) #25, not even she fathomed that she would one day give new meaning to the term “road doctor.”

Dr. Tracy A. Timmons
In June 1993, Tracy Timmons graduated from the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department CRS #25 and began her career as a firefighter. After being with the Department for one year, Fire Fighter Timmons cross-trained and became a paramedic. “I realized that I hated not having enough knowledge about what was going on with the patients I was transporting via ambulance. I wanted to know what the paramedics knew,” she said.

During her tenure with the Fire/EMS Department, Fire Fighter/Paramedic Timmons was assigned to Landover Hills Fire/EMS Station 830; Chillum-Adelphi Fire/EMS Station 834; and Glenn Dale Fire/EMS Station 818. She was also a member of the Special Tactical Unit at Tuxedo-Cheverly Fire/EMS Station 822. Always one who desired to help others, she derived fulfillment from her dual status of firefighter and paramedic. However, after a while, she was no longer satisfied with just “knowing what the paramedics knew.” Tracy now wanted to know what those to whom she transported patients—the ER doctors—knew. In December 1995, she acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland. After 7 years with the Fire/EMS Department, Fire Fighter/Paramedic Timmons left to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. She received her Doctor of Medicine degree in 2004, from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond.

Dr. Timmons’ resume boasts of an extensive list of accomplishments, ranging from Chief Resident of General Surgery with the Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems to Surgical Critical Care Fellowship with R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center (STC), University of Maryland Medical Center. In 2010, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she presently serves. Her clinical activities include: Trauma Surgeon, Surgical Intensivist at R Adams Cowley STC and General Surgeon on emergency surgery at Baltimore Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. Impressively, her publications peer-reviewed journal articles include 1). Lin M, Mohammed H, Brazio P, Lavien G, Lumpkins K, Timmons T. “Sacral osteomyelitis: an unusual complication form foreign body ingestion” (AM Surgeon); and 2). Timmons, T and Menaker, J. “Traumatic brain injury in the elderly” (Clinical Geriatrics 2010; 18:20-24).

A typical work schedule for Dr. Timmons consists of 21-35 consecutive days, followed by a week off. Two out of every 7 days, she works a 24 hour shift. While speaking of her extremely demanding schedule, she jokingly referenced her Fire/EMS Department days, saying, “24/72 was certainly a better schedule! Nevertheless, I love what I do.”

Growing up, for as long as she could remember, Tracy wanted to be a soldier. Her dad was an active service member, and her goal was to follow in his footsteps. She never once thought about a career in medicine until she became a paramedic. She attributes her success as a doctor to the training she received as a paramedic in the Fire/EMS Department. “Being a paramedic was invaluable to becoming a doctor. Because of that, I went into medical school with some life experience.”

“Another reward of being a paramedic,” according to Dr. Timmons, “is when you’re 911, folk are happy to see you show up. As a doctor, the level of gratitude is not the same. Folk have unreal expectations of what doctors know or can do.” Asked if there is any part of being a doctor that she finds difficult, she responded, “I experience great difficulty in dealing with family, as it relates to accepting the reality of the patient’s condition. Another thing that’s difficult for me is losing a patient, as I sometimes do. In those times, I walk away questioning whether there was something I could have done better or differently to change the outcome.”

Describing her special interests and hobbies, 43-year-old Dr. Timmons said she is greatly interested in neurotrauma, which is injury to a nerve, especially part of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). As far as hobbies go, she plays the guitar and is fond of live music—mostly blues and folk. “I also like keeping fit, which I do by walking on the treadmill and weight training. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to do many of the things I enjoy. I obviously would also love to spend more time at home,” she says.

Dr. Tracy Timmons, her wife and 8 year-old stepson reside in Timonium, Maryland.

SAFETY FIRST - Fire/EMS Training Academy Tactics Recognized

Safety First

By: Rasy Moqeet
Los Angeles County Fire Department

Every fire academy in the country teaches their recruits that safety comes first, but Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department (PGFD) has taken this concept one step further. In addition to the standard firefighting and emergency medical services training, PGFD has found an innovative approach to teach their recruits about the hidden dangers facing firefighters, including cancer. What began as a weekend homework assignment became something much more as a recent recruit class at PGFD set out to investigate the correlation between firefighters and cancer.

The concept is simple, each week the class attending PGFD’s Fire/EMS Training Academy is given weekly assignments that focus on varying health and safety issues, including nutrition, wellness, fitness, NIOSH reports, and of course cancer and its association with firefighters. According to PGFD Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor, the recruit class has taken this assignment and turned it into a mission that was beneficial for all. He said, “These assignments are geared towards getting recruits to think why we are so adamant about safety. It refocused their training, for example now the recruits know that they want to make sure their face mask has a nice tight seal so that smoke cannot get in because not only can smoke have an immediate affect, but 20 years down the road it can lead to cancer and kill you.”

The Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) whose mission is to provide support to Fire Department members and their families when dealing with cancer, was excited to learn that PGFD has found a way to integrate this very important education into their recruit classes and hopes that other fire academies will follow PGFD’s lead. Numerous studies have shown that firefighters face a significantly higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer than the public they serve and education is a key factor to helping reduce that risk. One of FCSN’s primary goals is to educate firefighters about the importance of following safety procedures and ways to reduce their risks of contracting cancer. According to FCSN, “Absorption, ingestion, and inhalation are the three leading ways that firefighters are contracting cancer.” Simple steps such as wearing full personal protective equipment, including the self contained breathing apparatus, during and after a fire, as well as showering and cleaning dirty turnouts can all help firefighters lessen their risks to the dangerous cancer causing carcinogens.

Firefighters have an inherently dangerous job and they need to be diligent in their efforts to maintain proper safety protocol because it can save their lives not only in the field, also in the years to come. A recent PGFD Recruit School graduate, Fire Fighter Brian Goldfeder put it, “Some firefighter deaths are not preventable; sometimes we must take big risks to save human lives, however, the past traditions of not wearing SCBA and enjoying dark soot around our noses and mouths after fires, are traditions that belong in the past. We, as a new generation of firefighters, must learn from the past and help each to retire; to a healthy life with our friends and family.” To learn more about the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and the services they offer, please visit www.FirefighterCancerSupport.org

The author of this article can be contacted at:
Executive Bureau - Headquarters Support

Media Contact for PGFD is Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930