Firefighters possibly exposed to Hep A while battling homeless encampment fire

Firefighters possibly exposed to Hep A while battling homeless encampment fire

25 September 2017

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NATO / Georgia: NATO Allies and partners have helped Georgia contain a major forest fire in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Georgia approached NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) for assistance on 23 September 2017, and the request was immediately circulated to NATO Allies and partners. On Sunday, Turkey deployed two firefighting helicopters and Azerbaijan also provided a firefighting helicopter. Today, the fire has been contained.


This assistance follows two similar Georgian requests to the EADRCC in August. By 28 August, two NATO Allies (Turkey and the United States) and three partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus) helped bring forest fires under control near Georgia’s Borjomi Municipality.


The EADRCC is NATO’s principal civil emergency response mechanism in the Euro-Atlantic area. It is active all year round, operational on a 24/7 basis, and involves NATO’s 29 Allies and all partner countries. The Centre coordinates both requests and offers of assistance mainly in case of natural and man-made disasters. More information is available on our topic “Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre” USA: Nearly a dozen firefighters may have been exposed to Hepatitis A while battling a brush fire in a Spring Valley homeless encampment early Sunday, a fire official said.


The blaze sparked behind a condominium complex on Spring Canyon Drive about 1:30 a.m. Initially, firefighters thought the area was simply wet from water from the fire hose and a natural spring nearby.


It wasn’t until they doused the 1-acre blaze that firefighters noticed the pungent smell of feces, said San Miguel Fire Protection District spokesman Stephen Moran.


“The crews were focused on the fire but once they put it out, they realized the smell around them was from human waste,” Moran said.


They soon realized their boots, uniforms and equipment had been soiled.


One firefighter accidentally stepped into a 5-gallon bucket filled with feces while walking toward the fire. He ended up falling down a hill and was taken to a hospital with a minor back injury.


As a precaution, fire officials contacted the county’s Hazardous Material’s team that recommended firefighters wash their gear and equipment with soap and water before returning to the station.


A stretch of hose that was buried in the mess was left in the canyon. Moran said they didn’t want to chance exposing anyone else to Hepatitis A, but that they plan to retrieve it at some point.


Moran said it’s routine for fire officials to contact the county or other professionals if a firefighter is potentially exposed to an illness, and that they would have reached out even if San Diego had not been in the midst of a hepatitis outbreak.


On Monday, 11 firefighters were checked by medical professionals and given booster shots to combat potential infection. Firefighters are regularly vaccinated against a variety of illnesses, but Moran didn’t know if the men who responded had received Hepatitis A vaccines.


He said firefighters usually take precautions if they are going to be exposed to potentially ill people, but they didn’t know beforehand that the fire had sparked in an encampment.


It’s unclear if there was a public restroom in the area, which is east of state Route 125 and Quarry Trail.

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