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Orange County Grand Jury Questions Sending Firetrucks to Medical Calls

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Fire departments throughout Orange County are facing questions from the OC Grand Jury on why they routinely send out fire trucks when there aren’t any fires since a majority of 911 calls are for medical emergencies.

In a report titled “WHERE’S THE FIRE? Stop Sending Fire Trucks to Medical Calls,” released last month, grand jurors pointed out that while fire trucks are sent out on nearly all emergency calls, almost 80% of 911 calls in Orange County are for medical assistance, not fires. 

It’s a statistic that Placentia city officials realized years ago, which was the basis of them forming their own fire department with a completely different response model than fire agencies throughout OC.

To read the OC Grand Jury report, click here

Most of the report revolved around the OC Fire Authority’s handling of emergency medical services, since it services the majority of Orange County cities. 

According to the grand jury report, last year, nearly 75% of the agency’s emergency calls were for medical alerts, while 1.7% were fire calls. 

The remaining calls were labeled “other,” including problems such as “persons in distress, smoke, odor problems, hazardous conditions,” and others. 

The agency dispatches a team of at least six personnel across a fire truck and an ambulance “regardless of the classification of the medical emergency,” a decision the grand jury criticized. 

“Because over 75 percent of all fire dispatch calls are for medical emergencies, dispatching … response with a truck or engine to every medical call does not make sense and results in a consistent over-deployment of equipment and personnel,” grand jurors wrote.  

Fire authority spokesman Matt Olson said that while they’d received the report and “appreciate the work that went into it,” the agency declined to comment until it had a chance to conduct a “thorough review of the report and its recommendations.” 

Since a majority of fire department calls are for medical emergencies, Placentia became the first city in the county to break away from the Orange County Fire Authority and create its own fire department in 2019. 

Spearheaded by City Manager Damien Arrula, Placentia’s response model takes the advanced-life-saving paramedic off the firetrucks and puts them on ambulances since an overwhelming majority of their calls are for medical emergencies.

[Read: Placentia Fire Department to Take Reins From OC Fire Authority After Year-Long Battle]

Placentia City Council members and city officials faced considerable pushback from various firefighter unions and the fire authority during their switch, which is expected to save the city millions of dollars by the end of the decade, according to city projections.

[Read: Placentia Alleges OC Fire Authority Misconduct After City Leaves Agency]

The high volume of medical deployments come as the OCFA has struggled with “firefighter fatigue,” reporting that “the volume of vacant shifts is substantially exceeding the overtime our firefighters wish to work.” 

The grand jury pointed out that not sending out those fire trucks to every stop could help reduce the strain on the understaffed department, “leading to a reduction in work time and stress for on-duty firefighters.” 

Meanwhile, the report praises the work of the Placentia Fire Department.

They also implemented a new response system that functions differently than any other in Orange County: when a 911 call comes in, the police department dispatcher determines if police, fire, or an ambulance are needed and just dispatches the required units. 

The report referenced preliminary data released by Placentia pointing out how just sending out ambulances has cut four minutes off the response time for first responders and cut costs for the city. 

“Placentia should receive credit for attempting (and in many ways delivering) a new and better approach to EMS,” the jurors stated. 

In a statement, Placentia Fire Chief Jason Dobine said their system has helped speed up response times and increased coordination between the police and fire departments. 

“Sending the appropriate resources for the appropriate call type should be the goal of any public safety agency,” Dobine wrote. “I am proud of the trajectory that we are on, and I look forward to continued growth as an organization.” 

In their conclusion, the grand jurors recommended that within the next two years every fire agency in Orange County should implement a system that sends a single unit to “incidents triaged as non-life-threatening,” and that the OCFA should use more paramedic vehicles instead of a second fire truck at their fire houses. 

This isn’t the first time the grand jury has made recommendations like these to the OCFA. 

Over a decade ago, an Orange County Grand Jury pointed out the same problem with nearly identical statistics, showcasing how fire trucks were being used where there wasn’t any fire. 

“Of the 180,000 incidents reported in Orange County in 2010 by the various fire departments, approximately 134,000 (76%) were for medical emergencies and 44,000 (24%) were for fires and ‘other,’” the jurors wrote in 2012. 

That report also recommended that local agencies consider changing up their model. 

“The city fire departments and the Orange County Fire Authority should engage independent private consultants to re-evaluate their models for providing response for both fire and medical emergencies,” the jurors recommended. “Suggested alternative models should include forming a unified Emergency Response Department that includes fire and medical response, separating the fire response from the medical response, privatizing the emergency medical response, etc.” 

Local agencies and fire departments have between up to 90 days to respond to the grand jury report on whether or not they agree with the recommendations or if they will implement them. 

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at nbiesiada@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.

Voice of OC is Orange County's nonprofit newsroom. We rely on donations from people like you to sustain our news agency. Please make a contribution today: https://voiceofoc.org/donate

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mrobold
10 days ago
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Orange County, California
freeAgent
8 days ago
I hope they end that practice. It's extremely wasteful and unnecessary to send firefighters with fire trucks to respond to medical emergencies that are handled by ambulance crews anyway.
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The community effort that delivered Dapr v1.0

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Today we've announced the release of Dapr v1.0. The Distributed Application Runtime (Dapr) is now available as a production ready solution that helps developers build resilient, portable event-driven distributed applications on the cloud and edge.

It has been an incredible journey bringing Dapr from its initial release in October 2019 to production readiness and it could not have been made possible without a passionate, open community of developers from around the world. This is the benefit of open sourcethe hundreds of contributors to Dapr prove that many hands make for light work. Having many developers use Dapr, building applications in different languages and in a wide spectrum of scenarios ensures that Dapr is used and tested thoroughly. This was an important part of delivering Dapr v1.0 and will remain important as Dapr moves forward.

Since the initial announcement of Dapr, we've seen a rapid, steady growth of developers contributing to the project in all areas, and today we have 700 individual contributors to the project. This includes developers from cloud vendors such as Alibaba Cloud, large companies such as HashiCorp, as well as enterprises such as ZEISS who is building business critical systems with Dapr in production. Additionally, smaller startups such as Roadwork have made contributions while using Dapr to gain portability for their cloud native solution and accelerate its development for more agility.

A great example of this kind of contribution is the recent addition of the Dapr PHP SDK. This SDK was contributed by a developer from Automattic who is both passionate about PHP and excited about the possibilities Dapr holds. Contributions go beyond code and come in the form of docs, samples, issues, and guidance to Dapr users like the one provided by New Relic on how Dapr observability can be used with their monitoring tools.

The number of unique contributors across all Dapr repos from October 2019 to today.
The number of unique contributors across all Dapr repos from October 2019 to today.
Number of contributors per Dapr repo. Note that these are unique all-time contributors per repo, and many contributors make contributions to multiple repos.
Number of contributors per Dapr repo. Note that these are unique all-time contributors per repo, and many contributors make contributions to multiple repos.

As illustrated above, contributors have been making an impact in all corners of the Dapr project. Noticeably, the areas that have seen contributions from the greatest number of community members are the core areas of Daprthe Dapr runtime, which includes the code of the Dapr sidecar, the docs, and the components-contrib, the repository holding the code for components.

Having many contributors build new components is especially valuable, as components offer Dapr users the ability to leverage the Dapr API and interface with a wide range of technologies and systems. Having a large number of components available means helping even more developers simplify and accelerate the process of writing distributed applications. More components also means more flexibility in where these applications can be deployed, making code even more portable in multi-cloud or hybrid scenarios.

Today Dapr offers over 70 different components for state management (such as Redis, MySQL, Azure Cosmos DB, and many more), Pub/Sub messaging (such as RabbitMQ, AWS SNS/SQS, Kafka and more), secret stores (such as Kubernetes secret store, Azure Key Vault, HahiCorp Vault, and more) and both input and output bindings to integrate with services such as SendGrid, Azure Events Hub, and more.

Building an inclusive, open community has always been a high priority for the Dapr project. Last September, we shared the open governance model Dapr follows. We are committed to keeping Dapr vendor-neutral and welcoming to all developers and community members. To this end, we have begun evaluating open-source software foundations for Dapr's home in the future.

We invite you to try Dapr yourself and join the community. We believe that Dapr can help you build distributed applications more easily and we are always looking for more developers to provide feedback, open issues, and help us define the future of Dapr.

Learn more about Dapr

Join the Dapr community

The post The community effort that delivered Dapr v1.0 appeared first on Open Source Blog.

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mrobold
488 days ago
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Orange County, California
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Golang Approves Generics, While Python Accepts Pattern-Matching Proposals

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From today's "This Week in Programming" column: Rejoice, long at last, all you Gophers, for the question of whether or not the Go programming language will adopt generics has finally, after many years of debate, been answered this week with the acceptance of a proposal made last month. In this most recent proposal, Golang team member Ian Lance Taylor writes that generics have been "one of the most commonly requested language features" since the language was first released in 2009, but even then, it's adoption doesn't come without concerns. Taylor explains the idea of generics in the intro of his proposal: "Generics can give us powerful building blocks that let us share code and build programs more easily. Generic programming means writing functions and data structures where some types are left to be specified later. For example, you can write a function that operates on a slice of some arbitrary data type, where the actual data type is only specified when the function is called. Or, you can define a data structure that stores values of any type, where the actual type to be stored is specified when you create an instance of the data structure." It is precisely this value proposition — being able to write reusable code — that excites some developers and has been behind the push all along... Generics wasn't the only controversial programming language addition this week, with the Python Steering Council making the decision to accept a number of Python Enhancement Proposals (PEPs) collectively known as the Pattern Matching PEPs. "We acknowledge that Pattern Matching is an extensive change to Python and that reaching consensus across the entire community is close to impossible," the council writes, saying that, nonetheless, they "are confident that Pattern Matching as specified in PEP 634, et al, will be a great addition to the Python language." One dissenter to the addition found their way to the pages of iProgrammer, with the snarky headline "Python Adopts Pattern Matching — Kitchen Sink Next." In other news, Google increased its support for the Python Software Foundation with a donation of more than $350,000 to support three specific projects, and also says it will continue its donation of Google Cloud infrastructure to the foundation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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mrobold
499 days ago
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Hell yes. When I first started learning golang, the lack of generics was driving me insane.
Orange County, California
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Containers on Azure with Tom Kerkhove

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How many ways can you run containers on Azure? Carl and Richard talk to Tom Kerkhove about his experiences working with Azure container solutions. The conversation starts out talking about Azure Functions, which under-the-hood are handled in containers - but you don't control those containers at all. You can run Web Apps in Containers or use the Azure Containers Instance. Azure Service Mesh also supports containers, and then there is the Azure Kubernetes Service. Tom helps sort these various options out - they each can help you in different ways!



Download audio: https://stream.redcircle.com/episodes/a7e4ff8c-2af4-46b8-ae24-0d783ca48c81/stream.mp3
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mrobold
511 days ago
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I am amused that I finally got around to listening to this, hearing Tom suggest there was not enough investment in Service Fabric Mesh, and the very next day Microsoft announced the end of Service Fabric Mesh
Orange County, California
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California's Inmate Firefighters May Soon Be Allowed To Continue Their Careers After Release

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A summer heat wave led to another round of wildfires in California which drew attention to the state's dependence on prison inmates as firefighters and the terrible fact that licensing regulations stop these men and women from continuing this work after they're freed.

But that may change with A.B. 2147, which lawmakers just passed on August 30 and now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom's signature. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes (D–San Bernardino), creates a process for former inmates to get their records expunged when they're released so that they can qualify for a state license to fight fires professionally.

Currently, California's oppressive licensing laws prevent former inmates from being able to earn the proper emergency technician license because they have criminal records. But every summer, when the wildfires grow out of control, the state depends on current inmates (who earn $1 per hour) to assist firefighting crews. Over the past couple of years, there's been more and more media attention paid to the outrage that these people cannot pursue firefighting as a career after they're released.

In June, Reyes introduced A.B. 2147 to fix this problem. Her bill establishes a process of relief for inmates who have participated in one of these "hand crews" successfully (meaning they didn't get booted out of the program for misconduct). Inmates convicted of certain crimes (like murder, kidnapping, rape, sex offenses, and, of course, arson) are not eligible.

"If we are willing to allow an incarcerated person to volunteer and help fight fires—protecting lives and property while putting their lives at risk; then we should be willing to allow those same individuals an opportunity to receive an expungement which can be granted after judicial review," she wrote in June after introducing the bill.

The bill doesn't stop with just letting former convicts legally fight fires. There are more than 40 occupations in California where people with criminal records are shut out of occupational licenses. A.B. 2147 will allow these former prisoners to work on getting licenses in these other careers, though they'll still be blocked from working as teachers, police officers, or elected officials.

Firefighters unions had been resisting this push to let inmates become professionals after they're released, but according to Erika D. Smith, a columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Reyes managed to satisfy them with this bill. It passed unanimously through the state's Senate and 51-12 in the Assembly.

Now it's up to Newsom to decide whether to sign the bill. He absolutely should, of course, allow these people to return to the workforce after their release.



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mrobold
662 days ago
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Orange County, California
freeAgent
663 days ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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Be careful what you wish for

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Suppose that in early February a crystal ball told you that the US economy was about to be locked down for a month to prevent a big outbreak of Covid-19. That time would be used to implement an aggressive policy of test/trace/isolate plus widespread mask wearing. With just a few dozen cases, it would be possible to isolate all the infected, as in places like New Zealand. You might think the one month lockdown was good news.

Now suppose instead that your crystal ball suggested that there would be a 5-year lockdown. Now your reaction might be fear. “Wow, that would only happen if the epidemic really got out of control.”

Now let’s switch to monetary policy. Suppose the Covid epidemic causes the Fed to temporarily slash rates to zero. You might think this was good news, monetary stimulus to offset the decline in nominal spending.

Now suppose instead that you saw this Bloomberg headline:

Fed Seen Holding Rates at Zero for Five Years in New Policy

The new approach could be unveiled as soon as next month.

How do you react? I worry that this means the economy is likely to be very weak for the next 5 years—not at all what I hoped for.

Now suppose you have been calling for level targeting and the Fed instead opts for “average inflation targeting”. Also assume the market reacts to the Fed’s announcement with market inflation forecasts of well below 2% for as far as the eye can see. Does that make you optimistic?

I do think that average inflation targeting would be a tiny step forward. But it’s also far more discretionary than level targeting, and hence it depends much more on implementation. Unlike with price level targeting, we don’t know how it will work.

Unfortunately, if the policy lacks credibility it’s not of much use. So I expect any gains from the policy to be small. The good news is that it’s one step toward price level targeting, and price level targeting would be a step toward NGDP level targeting.

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mrobold
668 days ago
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Orange County, California
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