Posts from — March 2010

Escape and Evacuation: Emergency Egress from High Rise Buildings, Factories and Industrial Facilities

Whether you work in a modern skyscraper office building or live in a residential high rise condominium apartment, you have to plan how you will safely evacuate and egress to safety in the event of an explosion or fire emergency. If you travel internationally for work, we’re confident your company’s risk management department has cautioned you against occupying a hotel room higher than floors which can typically be reached by local fire department ladder trucks.

Building fires with dense toxic smoke are not specific to high rise structures and in fact can occur in any building, factory or industrial complex. See the accompanying video of the February 18, 2010 Austin Texas office building fire that was caused by a deliberate plane crash. A practiced building evacuation plan with posted escape routes, trained personnel and fire drills is the logical place to start. Imagine the reality of you and your co-workers traversing debris strewn floors, collapsed ceiling grids, smoke filled darkened stairwells, and passing intensely hot areas consumed by fire as you make your escape from the building. Where are you meeting others from your office? Is everyone accounted for and has anyone been injured? Did everyone make it out? Where’s Bob? I thought he was with you?

Photo credit: Jay Janner

The most likely potential danger faced by a workforce, whether as a result of industrial accident, terrorist activity or from other causes, would be fire and the highly toxic smoke and gases it generates. The next step is choosing the most appropriate and effective means of protecting people, and this means finding a way to assist them in safely evacuating a building engulfed with smoke and fire. A number of safety devices have been engineered to address the issue of high rise building evacuation.

Another element of the ICE PACK™ brand are Escape & Evacuation systems that provide persons potentially trapped by smoke and fire, with a safe and protective means to egress the building. There is no doubt that toxic smoke and fire are deadly combinations especially inside a darkened building. Being prepared and equipped to egress through, and out of a building fire takes courage, determination and technology at a very personal level.

ICE-PACK™’s Building Evac-Pack is a lightweight gym bag sized package that easily fits under your office desk. It is designed to provide the user with basic to advanced levels of protection, and in the most dire of circumstances, approximately 15 to 30 minutes of respiratory protection from smoke, carbon monoxide, toxic gases and radiant heat. The Building Evac-Pack’s cornerstone of protection is the advanced technology iEvac Fire Escape Hood. The Evac-Pack also includes eye, hand and body protection, emergency lighting and signaling equipment. Time, tools and tenacity are what you need to escape safely!

Look for the ICE PACK™ equipment review of the iEvac Fire Escape Hood here on our website in the near future. Our thanks to Ira Gurvitch of Elmridge Protection for his assistance with content for this blog post!

Our next blog post: First Responders: Equipping Disaster Response GO, NGO’s, SAR Teams for Urban and Rural Rescue Missions is coming soon. Thanks for visiting!

March 25, 2010   No Comments

Emergency Sustainment vs. Survival: No Assembly Required!

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) “Are You Ready?” campaign is advising all Americans to assemble “kits” in the event they have to survive on their own until First Responders can reach them following a disaster – but is the kit you made or purchased on-line what you need, when you need it? Imagine yourself and others trapped in a building after violent earthquake or storm. Your lights are out, as are your cellular and telephone. Certainly your computer is down. Water and sewer lines are out of commission. If it’s winter, there’s no heat; if it’s summer, there’s no air conditioning. If conditions are anything like Metro-Manila’s floods of 2009 (PDF – read the field report from Regino Cruz of the Asia based Emergency Research Center Inc. and visit the Floodsmart.gov link at the bottom of this post) your situation could be dire.

You’re not the only person affected, so it may take many hours – or even days – for First Responders to reach you while local governments and utilities struggle to get roadways cleared, rescue operations underway and basic utility services restored. Remember that the further you are from town, the longer it will take First Responders to reach you. Chances are, you might need to “Shelter in Place” by taking immediate shelter where you are, in which case you may also have to “seal the room” to prevent outside air from coming in (due to an air born chemical, biological or radiological threat), or, you might need to evacuate at a moment’s notice, taking your essentials and important documents with you. Do you stay, or go, and how will you know?

FEMA recommends assembling kits filled with enough basics to last at least three days to keep in your workplace, vehicle and home – and offers instructions on its website for assembling them. At Are You Ready you can learn what you will need to assemble for your kit, and how to assemble it. But, with Ashbury’s ICE PACK™ Emergency Sustainment Systems there is no assembly required!

Developed to provide provisions for “turn-key” emergency preparedness and disaster response, ICE PACK™ Emergency Sustainment Systems are stocked with essential supplies far beyond the minimum. They are packaged to remain fresh for up to five years* in easy-to-store, easy to open, water proof high visibility 6-gallon containers with glow-in-the-dark labels. ICE PACK™ Emergency Sustainment Systems can keep organizations functioning and people thriving for three days to two weeks, until utilities and public services are restored or rescue occurs.

ICE PACK™ Emergency Sustainment Systems will be made in workplace size 16-person, office size 8-person, family size 4-person, and smaller sizes for couples and individuals. Each ICE PACK™ Emergency Sustainment System consists of 15 integrated high quality modules and can be customized for enterprise-wide use. Each Emergency Sustainment System contains: disaster planning, preparedness and response manuals; shelter-in-place and shelter repair supplies; all hazards radio; environmental and personal protection; emergency lighting; emergency signaling devices; lithium battery power; emergency multi-tools; medical first aid; safe drinking water and hot food; personal hygiene items; and even supplies for emergency record keeping and entertainment designed to relieve stress.

ICE PACK™ Emergency Sustainment Systems will be available to corporations, commercial enterprises, industry, government agencies and the general public. Ashbury’s focus on critical infrastructure helps to support continuity of operations for the public and private sectors during a disaster event. Our next blog post; Escape and Evacuation: Safe Egress from High Rise Buildings, Factories and Industrial Centers is coming soon. Thanks for visiting!

* Over the counter (OTC) medications need to be replaced annually to ensure effectiveness
This is National Flood Safety Awareness week March 15-19, 2010 check out Floodsmart.gov and protect your home, office or facility.

March 17, 2010   1 Comment

The Systems Approach to Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response

In recent days, violent extreme weather in the midst of western Oklahoma prairie towns and destructive earthquakes in the not so far away nation of Chile, highlight the need to have more than just a disaster survival “plan” or a “kit”. Dealing with the reality of life threatening disasters or emergency situations that affect the continuity of operations for business and industry, can’t be done with simple catch phrases. A new mindset is required.

To get a good perspective on this, just read the short article in the November/December 2009 edition of Emergency Management magazine “Citizens’ Perceived Preparedness Doesn’t Match Measures Taken“. Today prepared citizens, public entities and private sector organizations must embrace and adopt a systematic approach to emergency preparedness that starts with a plan and extends through recovery.

The Emergency Preparedness Division, of Ashbury International Group developed the ICE PACK™ brand (In Case of Emergency) as a means to provide critical information, resources, and training to those whom may inevitably encounter a disaster, or who may be called upon, or serve in the role of a First Responder. With more than 15 years of international experience working closely with government security, law enforcement, military and Special Operations Forces, Ashbury was disheartened in the aftermaths of recent national disasters, then inspired and motivated to develop system solutions that could serve the greater good.

Society’s extreme dependence on technology, the always unexpected impact of natural disasters, dangerous annual extreme weather conditions, and the pervasive scourge of terrorism are all significant factors that support a systematic approach for planning to deal with disaster events. Ashbury’s vision for ICE PACK™ is to help change the way we as a modern society think, plan, respond and recover from minor emergencies to major disasters now and into the future.

March 12, 2010   1 Comment