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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Severe Thunderstorm Watch in Effect

MEDIA CONTACT ONLY: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

The National Weather Service (NWS) a "severe thunderstorm watch" for Prince George's County until 5:00 pm today.  This is a statement from the NWS about this afternoons weather:

1052 AM EST Wed Mar 1 2017

This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for the Maryland portion of the
Chesapeake Bay, Tidal Potomac River, and adjacent counties in
central Maryland and northern Virginia as well as the District of

.DAY ONE...Today and Tonight
A severe thunderstorm watch is now in effect until 5 PM for the
Baltimore and Washington metro areas.

Scattered severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail
are expected this afternoon. The most likely time for severe
thunderstorms is between 2 PM and 5 PM.

A Gale Warning is in effect for the waters today and tonight.

A wind advisory may be required tonight for winds in excess of 45

With high winds in the forecast the potential for tree falls and power outages will be high.  The combined civilian, volunteer and career members of your Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department want to remind you of some good common sense safety tips.

While these storm safety tips are for a "worst case" scenario they are always good to have on hand and be aware of.

Stay informed by monitoring local news broadcasts on TV and radio as well as reliable news  Internet sites about approaching weather.  Sign up to ALERT - Prince George's and receive important news and storm updates on your mobile device.  Follow @PGFDPIO on Twitter,  www.PGFDNEWS.com  and PGFD Facebook for up to the minute Fire/EMS news and safety advice.  

Have all mobile devices fully charged before and during the storm.

Have your emergency kit prepared, stocked and ready.  For additional information on what should be in your kit go to: www.ready.gov

Your emergency kit should include a battery operated radio and flashlights.  We do not recommend the use of candles during power outages.

Ensure your Smoke alarm and CO detector are tested and have fresh batteries.

Consider purchasing bags of ice that can be stored in your freezer.

Ensure your cell phones, lap tops and tablets are completely charged.

Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas.

Consider having a quantity of cash on hand in the event that ATM's and banks are out of power.

Remove any objects in your yard that could become airborne during periods of high winds.  Secure larger items by tying them down.

Clean and clear your storm and outdoor basement drains of any debris that could clog and back up rain water.

Management companies should safely inspect their rooftops to ensure all gutters and roof top drains are clear and clean up any debris that will clog drains when it rains.  Pooling water on roof tops could cause water damage inside and cause a possible collapse.

Stay ready to take quick actions in the event of severe weather including remaining indoors and going to the lowest possible level or floor and if possible in a room with no windows. Have your emergency kit ready. 

Check with your work location on what is the plan and notification for cancellations.

Set up a communications plan with family members and friends.  Remember that "texting" has been more reliable then cell phone calls and emails during times of high usage and outages.

If you have a generator - follow manufacturer's instructions on how to use it safely, position it far enough away from your residence to avoid CO finding it's way inside, refuel after cool-down, use approved outdoor heavy-duty extension cords that are free of any rips and tears. 

NEVER use a generators indoors or in garages - carbon monoxide will quickly build up and could kill you and anyone else in the house.

Stay Informed, Stay Ready, Stay Safe.  Don't panic, stay calm and prepare.

Statement from PGFD Chief Barksdale and Organizational Structure

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Statement from Acting Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale on his first official day to all civilian, career and volunteer members of the Fire/EMS Department:

I am proud and privileged to serve as the Acting Fire Chief for the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department.

My core mission as your Fire Chief will be to continue with progressive efforts in improving our Fire/EMS Department toward meeting all fire and EMS demands of the community. This will be achieved through capital improvement projects, increased staffing, training, long term apparatus replacement plans and improving safety within our agency.

Accokeek Bingo Player Thanks Crew That Saved Her Life

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Prince George’s County Firefighters, EMT’s and Medics were recognized for saving a life during a presentation at the Accokeek Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday, February 28.  The ceremony included Prince George’s County Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale, Deputy Fire Chief (Volunteer Services) Jim McClelland, Assistant Fire Chief (EMS Commander) Brian Frankel and the career and volunteer crews that worked collectively to save the life of a heart attack victim.  The crews received the Fire/EMS Departments “Life Saved” coin and a congratulatory letter.  However, the award that meant the most was the person whose life was saved was there to thank them.

An adult female suffered sudden cardiac arrest while playing Bingo in Accokeek on Thursday evening, December 22.  Fortunately, this event occurred at the Accokeek Volunteer Fire Department where Firefighter/EMTs were readily available and immediately provided life-saving intervention.

The adult female was one of about 100 patrons at the Accokeek Bingo at around 9:15 pm when she suddenly collapsed.  She was found to be not breathing with no pulse.  Accokeek Volunteer members working the Bingo were the first to intervene while the combined volunteer and career staffing at the station were quick to respond and continue life-saving efforts including cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to administer a shock in an attempt to stimulate her heart.

Paramedics from the Fort Washington Fire/EMS Station responded to the call and arrived to find CPR still being administered.  Firefighters and medics loaded the patient into a transport unit and departed to the nearest hospital while providing advanced life support and pre-hospital care to the patient.  Prior to arriving at the hospital the female patient regained spontaneous circulation as well as becoming alert and orientated.

The following day, the patient remained in the hospital ICU in relatively good condition.  She was soon released and has since made a full recovery. 

“This save is indicative of the team work, dedication and commitment of all our Fire/EMS providers working to save a life,” said Chief Barksdale.  “Early access AED and CPR really does save lives!”

Members recognized include:

Accokeek Volunteer Members

Brooke Sherman
Tina Jordan
Clem Hagens
Kathryn Fortgang
Paige Hill
Elana Sherman
Marcie Cox

Career Firefighter/Medics

Accokeek Ambulance
Charis Johnson 
Allen Fischer 

Medic Unit - Fort Washington
Andrew Rohrbaugh 
Owen Hardy 

Accokeek Engine
Daniel Powell 
Marques Powell 
Samuel Betts 

Crew recognized by Fire Chief Barksdale for saving the life of a sudden cardiac arrest victim.  Patient, in MARYLAND shirt, is alive and well and thanked everyone involved at an award ceremony in Accokeek on Tuesday evening. (Photo by PGFD)
While not used in this incident this phone app has the potential to do the same thing - save a life.  The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department currently offers a phone app that alerts CPR trained citizens that are in close proximity to a cardiac arrest call.  The phone app also provides the location of the nearest AED.  Everyone is encouraged to learn CPR and how to use an AED in addition to downloading the Pulse Point app on your phone.  Learn CPR and help save a life!

PGFD Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
MEBrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, has selected Benjamin M. Barksdale to serve as Acting Fire Chief of the County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department effective today, March 1, 2017.  Upon County Council confirmation later this year, Chief Barksdale, who has over 35 years of fire service experience, will become the Department’s twelfth Fire Chief. 

Prior to joining the Fire/EMS Department as a Deputy Fire Chief on June 20, 2011, Acting Fire Chief Barksdale was Assistant Fire Chief with the Arlington County Fire Department in Virginia.  Since being with the Prince George’s County, he served as Administrative Services and Emergency Services Commander until being appointed Chief Deputy, the second highest position within the Department.

Acting Fire Chief Barksdale, who holds a Master of Science degree in Management, is recognized as a Chief Fire Officer by the Commission on Professional Credentialing, certified as a Public Manager, and a certified Fire Instructor with the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.  He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Human Relations Committee, and a member of the Black Chief Officers Committee.  He also served as Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Senior Operations Chiefs Committee and is a member of the Nation’s Capital Incident Management Team.

Acting Fire Chief Barksdale played a key role in the Department's apparatus replacement program and updating the entire inventory of self-contained breathing apparatus.  He has spent two tours training firefighters in Kenya, with fellow firefighters from around the United States.

Acting Fire Chief Barksdale, along with his wife of 23 years, Sandra, and 19-year-old daughter, Olivia, reside in Prince George’s County. 

PGFD Safety First Day of the Month - March - Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

March 1, 2017, the start of the month that includes hints of Spring and a change in clocks to Daylight Saving Time.  It is also our Safety First Day of the Month.  A day designated to test your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.  "Press to Test" your smoke and CO alarms today to ensure you and your loved ones are protected from the devastation of fire and CO.  Every 1st day of every month is designated as the day to test your smoke and CO alarms to ensure they emit that life saving alert.  Simply press the test button on the front of the alarm.  

On Sunday, March 12, we will change our clocks to reflect Daylight Saving Time.  Spring Forward by changing your clocks up 1 hour.  This is also a time when we ask everyone that has a 9-volt or "AA" battery operated smoke and CO alarms to change the battery's in these alarms as well.  This task is not needed if you have 10-year alarms or hard-wired alarms with a 10-year battery back-up as those batteries never need to be changed.  Keep in mind that as of January 1, 2018 all battery powered alarms must be switched to the 10-year style alarms.  Both working smoke and CO alarms are required by law to be in all homes, apartments, condos and dorms in Prince George's County.

On the first day of every month, regardless of whatever day it is, simply press the test button on the cover of your smoke and CO alarms.

On Monday, March 13, at 11:00 am, Prince George's and Montgomery County will each receive a donation of 10 year alarms from PEPCO.  This event will occur at Montgomery County Fire/EMS Station 718, Glenmont, at 12210 Georgia Avenue.  Additionally, citizens can call 311 and receive a smoke alarm installed in your home; free of charge.

 When you "Press to Test"

If you hear the audible warning – you are good for another month.

No audible warning?? – provide a fresh battery in your alarms and re-test.

Audible warning??  Yes – you are good until next month!!!  No tones – remove the alarm and replace it with a new 10-year alarm.

While you’re tending to your alarms – remove any dust or other particles from your alarm by dusting or using a vacuum.  Remember these alarms could be the difference between life and death of you and your family.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors - Keep in mind that some of our neighbors may not physically be able to reach their alarms to test or change batteries.  If you have senior citizens family members or neighbors, please, perform this lifesaving function for them. They may not ask for help but they certainly could use some.

Anyone that can not afford to purchase their own 10-year smoke alarm may call 311 and make arrangements for a firefighter to visit your home and install these life saving items for you.

Remember that it is now a law for homes that have gas service, fireplace and/or an attached garage are required to have CO alarms installed on every level of your h.

The Fire/EMS Department strongly endorses the use of 10-year, tamper proof with hush feature smoke and CO alarms on every level of your home, outside of sleeping areas and in every bedroom.

Also, design a exit drill in your home and identify two ways out of every room in the event of a fire.  Designate a safe meeting place outside and practice you exit drill at least twice a year.

**  Hint **  Other monthly tasks such as changing filter furnaces, providing our pets with monthly medications, etc. can be done on the safety first day of the month as well.

Install CO alarms on every level of your home, primarily, just outside of sleeping areas.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, primarily, just outside of sleeping areas and in every bedroom.  Sleep with your bedroom door closed.  

Plan and practice an exit drill in the home.  Identify 2 ways out of every room in your house and a safe meeting place outside.