Office of Emergency Response Newsletter - March 2016

Office of Emergency Response - Response Times Newsletter headerOffice of Emergency Response Newsletter - March 2016


Are You Prepared?

HazMat Symposium

Staff members from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Emergency Response participated in the Third Annual HazMat Training Symposium held Jan. 20-22 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. The symposium featured numerous classes and hands-on training related to hazardous materials/transportation. In addition, the symposium hosted a HazMat Competition to test a variety of hazardous materials skills by first responders. Many DEP OER responders sat in on both their regional Local Emergency Planning Committee meetings and additional committees on which they serve. Hands-on training opportunities included:

  • Flammable liquids foam operations
  • Grounding and bonding
  • Pressurized gas line leak
  • Pressurized leak control A-B-C kits
  • Rapid chemical risk assessment

Active Shooter Training

The Tallahassee OER and other DEP staff learned about preventative measures at a training session about active shooters in the workplace. Here are some key facts.

Active Shooter – Defined


An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people, typically through the use of firearms, in a confined and populated area.

Characteristics of an active shooter situation:

  • Victims are selected at random.
  • The event is unpredictable and evolves quickly.
  • Law enforcement is sometimes required to end an active shooter situation.

Active Shooter – Coping

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.
  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.
  • Attempt to take down the active shooter as a last resort.
  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
  • Monitor the shooter’s location and reassess the situation as it unfolds.
  • Help others if you can, but leave them behind if they won’t run when you have a chance.
  • Find weapons of opportunity such as fire extinguishers or impact weapons, and be willing to use them. It may be your life versus the shooter's.

Active Shooter – How to Respond


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Keep your hands visible.


  • Hide in an area out of the shooter’s view.
  • Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors.
  • Try to hide behind something solid that will stop bullets.
  • Silence your cell phone.


  • Fight as a last resort and only when your life or the life of another is in imminent danger.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression and attack the shooter. Use any weapon available. Try to attack with others helping.

Radiological Nuclear Training

Nuclear Training Team

Responders Jamie Arlo, Bridjette Bucell, Jonathan Lara and Timyn Rice attended the Center for Radiological Nuclear Training’s Radiation and Nuclear Training for Hazardous Material Technicians, PER-241. This course trained DEP’s OER staff to respond to radiological weapon of mass destruction incidents while mitigating the health risks to themselves and the public. The course is taught at the Nevada National Security Site, an isolated and secure one-of-a-kind outdoor laboratory and national experiment center the size of Rhode Island. Participants learned radiation detection instrument and dosimeter characteristics and operational tactics.

Upcoming Training

Florida Marine Spill Analysis System (FMSAS) Training

Who: Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) specialists

When: April 11-15

Where: The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute, St. Petersburg

Asbestos Inspector Certification and Recertification

Who: Asbestos specialists

When: Certification: June 13-15, Oct. 3-5 

            Recertification: April 19, May 3, Aug. 9

Where: Gainesville, Dania Beach, Fort Walton Beach

Hurricane Preparedness Week image

Hurricane Season 
is Coming Your Way!

The 2016 Florida Hurricane Exercise
is May 16-19

Potential Spring Threats


A community may experience flooding for different reasons, including storm surge, heavy rainfall or river flooding. Low-lying or poorly drained areas also can increase a community’s flood risk. To protect yourself, be aware of flood threats that could affect your area:

  • Are there nearby rivers or creeks that flood frequently?
  • Is your home in a low-lying area?
  • What is your home’s elevation?

It is complicated to drain accumulated water in Florida’s relatively flat terrain. When rivers rise, water tends to spread out far beyond riverbanks. In the case of the 1997-98 El Nino floods, rising rivers and repeated periods of heavy rain combined to pool water over land miles away from rivers. Normally small rivers turned into vast lakes.

Pooling of water poses a significant risk, not necessarily because of swiftly moving water, but because of the difficulty in judging water depth. Water only inches deep can stand next to water that is several feet deep.

Obtain or review the flood map for your area.

Get more tips for staying safe during flooding from

Coping with Florida’s heat

Call 911 in case of heat-related illness. Heat stress, heat exhaustion or heat stroke can result in death.

Generator exhaust is toxic. If you lose power, always put generators outside and well away from doors, windows and vents. Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas.

Carbon monoxide is deadly, and it can build up quickly and linger for hours.

Prevention is the best defense. Stay out of direct sun, and wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Be extra careful with sensitive individuals such as children or elderly or sick adults. Never leave anyone or an animal alone in a car, pool or other risky location, not even for a few minutes.

Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening. Spend time in cool places like a shopping mall, a library or a theater.

Get more sun safety tips.

Remember pets. Make sure all animals have plenty of fresh water and are able to move out of direct sunlight.

Save energy. Reduce your home power use to help prevent brownouts or blackouts and smog/air pollution. Turn off nonessential lights, televisions, games and computers, and unplug chargers.

If the power goes out, be aware of the risk of heat-related illnesses for you and others. Drink plenty of fluids, wear light clothing, and stay indoors. Move to a lower floor or basement if possible. Get more tips from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Driving? Don’t top off. Remember not to top off your gas tank when you fill up. Topping off can spill gasoline, which quickly evaporates. Gasoline vapors can harm your family’s health and make ozone pollution and smog worse. In hot weather, buy gas in the early morning or at night.

Learn more about coping with Florida's heat at

Zika Virus

Photo by James Gathany

Photo by James Gathany of the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention

Zika virus is a mild illness caused by a mosquito-borne virus. Only about 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus show symptoms, which can include low-grade fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, headache and vomiting. There is no specific treatment against the virus, and the illness typically resolves within a week.

The Florida Department of Health urges residents and visitors to protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water, covering skin with clothing and insect repellant, and covering windows with screens.

Learn more about the Zika virus from the Florida Department of Health.


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Evacuation Planner:

Contact Information 

Florida Department of Environmental Protection 
Office of Emergency Response
3800 Commonwealth Blvd., MS 658 
Tallahassee, FL 32399