California Proposes New Law That Could Prevent EMTs From Helping In Wildfire Disasters

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On March 21, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards’ Board (OSHSB) granted petition 573 in part to propose new regulations to protect outdoor workers from breathing the toxic air from wildfire smoke. On May 8, 2019, an advisory meeting was held to gather input on the development of this emergency rule-making proposal.

The proposed legislation contains multiple requirements. The main ones call for employers to measure air quality before and throughout each shift, and they establish a system to communicate hazards to all workers.

The full text of the proposal details a complex procedure for monitoring and controlling the air quality, which includes moving workers around, increasing rest times to lower heart rates, and providing work areas that have filtered air.

On the surface, the proposal sounds reasonable and even necessary. Wildfire smoke contains vapors, gases, and solid and liquid particles that include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and fine particulate matter.

Small particles of less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest risk to human health since they penetrate deeply into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Studies have indicated that breathing wildfire smoke is heavily associated with respiratory morbidity and the development of asthma and COPD.

Protecting outdoor workers from wildfire smoke is clearly necessary. However, the way the legislation has been written is causing concern among hospitals.

Hospitals want the proposal reworded

According to the response filed by the California Hospital Association, the proposed law, as currently written, would impede a hospital’s ability to care for patients in emergency situations. The regulation exempts “emergency response personnel performing lifesaving emergency rescue and evacuation”; however, the legislation suggests that health-care workers that evacuate patients in an emergency qualify as “outdoor workers.

As long as health-care workers evacuating patients are regarded as “outdoor workers,” they would be subject to the regulations, which would make it all but impossible for them to do their job. The CHA argues this premise is flawed and should be corrected to reflect the perspective that hospital workers in an evacuation scenario qualify as “emergency response personnel.”

The CHA also explained in its statement that hospitals have respiratory protection plans in place already and are required to have N95 respirators available. Anyone required to work outside will be offered appropriate protection.

Protection is also supplied to people inside a hospital to a degree, in the form of air filtration systems. Wind can blow wildfire smoke for miles, so a quality air filtration system and a filter with a high MERV rating are the best indoor protection for people who don’t have a respirator.

An air filtration system can only help to a limited degree, however. Heavy smoke can overwhelm the effectiveness of even the best system.

Hospital patients don’t have access to respirators, so if smoke becomes too intense, they will be compelled to evacuate the building.

Contaminated air is a big deal

The push for extra protection for outdoor workers is understandable, considering the dangers of contaminated air. Wildfire smoke increases the risk of mortality from lung cancer, ischemic heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Firefighters are at high risk for all these diseases. Some of the toxic ingredients in wildfire smoke include:

  • Aldehydes (volatile organic compounds). These compounds irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. They cause lung inflammation, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Formaldehyde is an example of an aldehyde.
  • Sulfur Dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is an irritant to the eyes, skin, and upper respiratory tract, and can cause bronchoconstriction. When combined with water vapor, sulfur dioxide forms sulfuric acid.
  • Carbon monoxide. When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it displaces oxygen by attaching to red blood cells. The blood cells have less capacity to carry oxygen, which can lead to hypoxia. The work firefighters perform creates an increase in respiratory rates, which raises the amount of carbon monoxide they inhale.
    A four-year study done by the U.S. Forest Service’s National Technology and Development Program measured carbon monoxide levels along with levels of particulate matter. Researchers found carbon monoxide to be an indicator that other irritants and toxins are present. In the study, as carbon monoxide levels rose, so did the levels of other toxins.
  • Acrolein. Breathing in acrolein increases the possibility of respiratory infections and irritates the nose, lung, and throat. It can cause chronic respiratory irritation, and prolonged exposure can damage the proper functioning of the lungs.
  • Benzene. Benzene isn’t deadly, but it causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and irritates the respiratory tract. Prolonged exposure limits the body’s ability to repair DNA.
  • Crystalline silica. Although classified as a carcinogen by OSHA, inhalation of crystalline silica can cause silicosis — a noncancerous lung disease.

We can minimize the risk of smoke inhalation, but elimination is impossible

As long as wildfires occur, we can’t eliminate the inhalation of smoke for outdoor workers and firefighters. People may move to regions that are less affected by smoke, but firefighters and outdoor workers have to face it.

One would hope California legislators will take the input from the CHA under advisement, and alter the wording to allow hospital workers to be classified as emergency personnel during an evacuation. The bill is currently in the Senate, and it shouldn’t be long before it gets voted on.

Why everyone should be actively making use of cybersecurity efforts

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The world that we live in is positively immersed in and surrounded by digitalisation and technological advancement. We have created this world to be exactly what we intended it to be, and so it is. There is practically nothing that exists in this modern world that would, if we did not want it to be here. We are the masters of our universe, and it is something that becomes more and more important to take effective control of as time goes on. Widespread technological influence and digitalisation are innovations that have effectively propelled our world right into the digital era that we are now so inherently familiar with. The more that technologies become available to us, the more we are inclined to make use of them, to the point of no return sometimes. Further, the more time that we spend online, the more information we are offloading into the digital landscape, and that can be a security problem. Today, it is more important than ever to actively and consistently safeguard one’s privacy and security online.

Cybersecurity is more important a fundamental pillar of society than it has ever been. When people hear this, they generally disregard it, saying that they know how to protect themselves and that they always have. Others simply ignore the advice. But the people who are aware and willing to ensure their own protection and preservation in this digital age and beyond, are the ones who are truly protected – and who are the smartest for having had the forethought to do so. Consider the number of times a day that you log into your usual websites, or even visit the worldwide web. Now consider how long you spend online. And finally, think about how often you are entering letters and numbers off the keyboard on your device. Over time, all these sessions browsing online, all these seldom-considered typed movements in the digital landscape, accumulate to create a wealth of information that sits online and becomes more at-risk the longer and more expansive it becomes.

There are various cybersecurity networks that an individual or a business can use to safeguard themselves against online threats. A VPN (virtual private network), for example, is an effective way to essentially create a cloak of invisibility around one’s activity and roaming online. Similarly, anti-malware software works its magic by creating a virtual barrier of sorts around your device to protect it and alert you when threats and risks present themselves on your device. On and on the elevations go. Cybersecurity is more instrumental than ever, because we are spending more time than ever online. The reality is that cybersecurity is just as important for individuals as it is for entire industries, if not more so. Individuals have just as much to lose (if not more, arguably) than whole companies. Cybersecurity is so important, because without it there is no barrier, no cloak of invisibility, to secure privacy and protection online and for the party involved in the online activity. We simply cannot afford to be casual about cybersecurity anymore, the risks are too great now. In fact, they have been for a while.

Ensuring one’s privacy and security in the online stratosphere becomes more and more important the more often that they spend time online, because the nature of supply and demand is that the more information there is out there, the higher the potential risk of privacy and security threats effectively becoming disruptions. Sometimes, these disruptions are relatively harmless, but there are instances (and unfortunately, they are instances that are becoming more and more common as time goes on) where online threats become dangerous, threatening and stealing and all other manner of negative responses. The simple fact is that not everyone in the world is decent and kind and good, and the continuous advancement and expansion of the online stratosphere means that there is more opportunity than ever for undesirable parties to take advantage of the ever-growing wealth of information available online. Cybersecurity is no longer a niche bonus, but a necessity for everyone that spends time online.

We live in a world of our own creation. This is a world that is inherently immersed in feats of digitalisation and rapid technological advancement. It is an intriguing era, and one that we are all positively immersed in. The digital age is well and truly here, with technological innovations like the worldwide web and social media driving the era ever-forward. In a world where the average individual spends more time than ever online, it is more important than ever that we all take a step back and actively and consistently pursue cybersecurity measures. Never has there been an era that is as digitally immersive or entirely encapsulating, as this, here, today. In times past, people have not spent nearly enough time seriously considering the impact that their approach to their own privacy and security has on their own privacy and security. Therefore, cybersecurity measures are so fundamentally important, and why they will continue to be so moving forward. This is the digital age, and we must do our part to ensure our own protection and preservation here and now, and going into the future.

Law and the Future

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Law has been intertwined with the evolution of human civilization and social history, with the ancient Egyptian law dating as far back as 3000 BC. English law, which has been a precursor to much of modern jurisprudence, originated much later in the 10th century and has done well. But the legal services industry is in the throes of a profound transformation today. Various factors are propelling this growth, including a new global perspective, advances in computing and changing lawyer-client dynamics.

We are living in a global world. Tom Friedman had published ‘The World is Flat’ in 2005, which stated emphatically that globalization was ‘the next big thing.’ The legal space has not been left untouched by the wave of globalization as law firms have moved legal and countless other jobs across oceans. Globalization has swept the legal space within a short span of time due to the mushrooming of internet, automation of legal processes and developments in data security. As law firms expand their footprints worldwide, globalization will continue to reshape the legal landscape in coming years.

Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) marks a paradigm shift in the delivery of legal services. The work of attorneys and other legal professionals is being transferred to external vendors within the country of establishment and overseas as legal firms rush to minimize costs and enhance productivity. LPO firms will continue to grow in the foreseeable future as companies gain confidence regarding lingering confidentiality and security issues.

A multi-generational workforce is an unprecedented reality in today’s work environment. Four generations are working in unison, encompassing traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Many law firms are experiencing a generation gap of more than 50 years as attorneys and paralegals are working beyond their retirement age and a new generation of legal professionals is taking baby steps in the profession. Four generations employed under the same roof present new dynamics and challenges galore. In a related development, the millennial generation has surpassed the boomers and Gen X to emerge as the largest clientele today. The millennial generation is constituted of people born between 1980 and 2000 and estimates suggest that by 2020, millennials will possess spending power nearing $2 trillion.

Virtualization is turning into a norm in the legal space. Virtual law firms have a miniscule physical office and their legal team operates either from home or a virtual law office situated anywhere in the world, thanks to ubiquitous mobile devices and secure cloud-based technologies. Team members often work on a freelance basis and retain a major proportion of their earnings, unlike the traditional legal firms. This alternative method of legal practice leads to decent cost-reduction and healthy work/life balance.

Online communities play a vital role in nourishing the professional lives of attorneys today, helping them to mentor each other and potential clients. For example, car accident lawyers can use the online community platform to guide people about insurance matters. Social media is playing a pivotal role in binding online communities and transforming the practice of law. Social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are changing the process of recruitment, job search and client interaction in the legal profession. These social media are also doubling up as marketing tools, helping the legal professionals to accomplish branding, advertising and marketing goals. They are also playing a crucial role in customer/client relationship management

The golden age of the legal entrepreneur is here, thanks to convergence of globalization and technology. Advances such as cloud computing, smart phones and social media have redefined professions across the world, and the legal career is no different. An agile workforce, mainstreaming of gig economy and greater human-computers collaboration have been a fertile ground for the birth and nurturing of law firms and legal operations. There is a spurt in lawsuits due to greater awareness of legal rights and grievance redressal mechanisms. No-fee deals between attorneys and clients are enabling low-income claimants to approach courts for resolving conflicts and claiming compensation. A stream of LPOs and other legal service delivery companies have arisen in response to the rising demand for legal services.

Lawyers are losing their sole monopoly on law, thanks to the arrival of alternative legal service delivery models. Clients are seeking legal assistance from non-legal professionals such as paralegal technicians, offshore legal vendors, legal document preparers and virtual assistants. This alternative model would not dent the professional space at the top as the best legal brains will continue to be in demand and command premium professional fees.

Change is a good thing. Legal firms that embrace the rapidly changing environment of rising competition, technological advances and changing sociological dynamics, will face the future with confidence. Legal professionals will have an opportunity to live fuller and balanced lives, working from remote locations, rendering part-time services and taking career breaks as per personal needs and priorities. The new legal environment would also empower the citizens to take control of their legal matters and provide affordable legal services to disadvantaged segment of the population.

The Over 80 Rule

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If an individual chooses to consume an alcoholic beverage, but still has to drive afterward, it is important that they remain cognizant of the legal limit, which is 80mg.  Driving while under the influence is an incredibly serious and important matter. Due to the grave implications that driving under the influence of alcohol can bring, it is necessary to be aware of the over 80 rule.

Alcohol consumption affects others differently depending on their weight and whether they are male or female. When referencing a standard drink, there are three different types to acknowledge. Firstly, a 12 oz. beer constitutes as one drink, secondly, a glass of wine at 5 oz. is considered to be one drink, and thirdly, a drink containing 1.5 oz. of liquor is recognized as one drink.

These volumes of alcohol may affect people differently depending on their size and whether or not they are male or female. Although individuals may be affected more greatly if they are female and smaller, that does not mean that 80mg of alcohol shows up in the bloodstream as a lesser amount if you are a large male. Therefore, no matter your size or gender, it becomes pertinent to adhere to the 80mg of alcohol rule.

Alcohol primarily impairs judgement. Even though a person may feel as though they have built up a tolerance to alcohol and therefore the over 80 rule does not necessarily apply to them, or it can be applied more loosely, that also is not the case. Tolerance to an alcoholic substance does not change the amount of alcohol found within a person’s blood. Regardless of a person’s tolerance, 80mg of alcohol translates to a Blood Alcohol Concentration (or BAC) of 0.08, which puts an individual over the legal limit. If someone has a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08, this area is called the “warn range.” The warn range can still put a person in a situation where they may be reprimanded with serious consequences.

Driving under the influence does not only apply to driving a car. In fact, a person can receive a DUI while operating a vehicle, a motorboat, a snowmobile, a ski-doo, or an off-road vehicle. Often times, people will assume that just because they are not driving a vehicle that they are exempt from being charged with a DUI by the police. However, it is just as important for an individual to adhere to the over 80 rule whether they are driving a car or even a ski-doo. No matter what you are driving, the police are able to pull you over and conduct a series of sobriety tests in order to ascertain a person’s level of intoxication.

If a policeman or policewoman believes that a certain individual is overly intoxicated, there are a series of steps that they must complete. In fact, they are more likely to choose to conduct a sobriety test if a person has been charged with a DUI in the past, if they are able to smell alcohol on a person or their vehicle, if a officer notices an open container of alcohol within the vehicle, or that the officer believes the individual was driving dangerously or erratically.

If they concerned about any of the reasons above, they must first bring the suspect to the police station in order to conduct a sobriety test. This test includes two different breathalyzer tests, each 15 minutes apart from one another. Although an individual does have the right to refuse a breathalyzer, if one does not blow hard enough in order to “trick” the test and blow a lower BAC, or if a police officer believes the suspect is avoiding taking the test in order to increase time and decrease their BAC, they can be charged with a failure to comply.

In order to avoid receiving a DUI, it is important to always apply the over 80 rules. But, sometimes, mistakes can be made and a “driving under the influence” sentence can be given. So, what happens if a person receives a DUI? It is important to find legal representation so that a person is able to exercise all of their legal options. A DUI attorney has the experience to discuss legal options, request additional evidence, and negotiate with the prosecution. Therefore, it becomes almost essential to employ a defense attorney.

Often times, a defense attorney will provide a free consultation in order to assess the situation and provide a cost estimate for their legal services. Although a DUI can seem incredibly overwhelming and almost the end of the world, that is not the case. In fact, there are some instances in which a criminal record can be completely avoided. If not, roughly  2% of DUI cases actually go to trial. This is often due to the fact that a plea bargain is made by the defense and prosecution. Even though receiving a DUI can be daunting and even upsetting, employing a defense attorney will provide a large leg up when tackling a driving under the influence charge.