Boise, Sep 2 (AP/UNB) — Randy Brooks' son had a request three years ago: What could his dad do to make wildland firefighting safer?
To Brooks, a professor at the University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources who deals with wildland firefighting, it was more of a command.
His son, Bo Brooks, is a wildland firefighter who a few days earlier during that 2015 fire season fled a wall of flames that killed three of his fellow firefighters in eastern Washington.
The result of the conversation was an online survey that drew some 400 firefighters who mostly identified mental and physical fatigue as the primary cause of injuries to firefighters who are often confronted with a changing, dangerous environment.
But a self-selecting online survey is not necessarily representative of what's happening in the field. So Randy Brooks decided to apply some science.
That led to an ongoing health-monitoring study involving wrist-worn motion monitors and body composition measurements that last year found health declines and deteriorating reaction times among firefighters as the season progressed.
"A lot of them face peer pressure to perform all the time," Brooks said. "Others feel pressured to protect natural resources and structures at all costs."
About 19,000 firefighters are currently in the field fighting nearly 40 large wildfires. Fourteen firefighters have died this year as wildfires have scorched about 3,500 square miles (9,000 square kilometers) and destroyed about 3,000 homes.
The study last year found firefighters lost muscle mass but gained fat based on body-composition testing before and after the season.
The firefighters also wore a wrist device called a Readiband from a company called Fatigue Science. The device keeps track of how many hours of sleep a person gets. Formulas developed by the U.S. military then calculate fatigue, based on a lack of sleep. That's used to predict alertness and reaction times, which get worse as fatigue levels rise.
Firefighters in the field can get as little as six hours of sleep or less each night. The devices found that not only did reaction times falter as firefighters remained longer on a fire before getting a mandatory break, Brooks said, but firefighters also tended to take longer to recover as the season progressed. Sometimes, fatigue levels reached a level that suggested reaction times slowed down so much it took firefighters twice as long to react.
Brooks said his initial thoughts are that wildland firefighters might need better nutrition to stay fit and mentally sharp. But last year's study had only nine firefighters. Brooks this year has expanded the study to 18 firefighters, 16 men and two women. They're smokejumpers, meaning they parachute from airplanes to fight fires.
Brooks said that next year he hopes to have about 100 firefighters and include hotshot crews, a ground-based wildland firefighter that can, like smokejumpers, be deployed on a national basis.
Smokejumpers in the study often eat pre-made meals. Brooks wants to find out if maybe those meals are behind some of the puzzling results from last year's study, such as a loss in muscle mass.
Hotshots, meanwhile, can return to a central spot where they get prepared food supplied by the U.S. Forest Service. That agency has done extensive research on what it takes to keep wildland firefighters fueled, and contractors who supply the meals must meet Forest Service nutritional guidelines.
Forest Service health experts have even followed firefighting crews to take blood samples to check glucose levels, which can indicate alertness.
Joe Domitrovich, an exercise physiologist with the Forest Service's National Technology and Development Program in Missoula, Montana, said that experiment led the agency to change gears and recommend firefighters snack during their shifts to keep glucose levels up.
"It's critical for cognitive function as well as physical movement," he said.
The agency declined to comment on the University of Idaho study.
Brooks said at this point in his study there are more questions than answers. For example, one question is why so many firefighter deaths are due to falling branches or trees. The deaths of three of the 14 firefighters who died last year were due to what are called hazard trees. At least one firefighter was killed by a falling tree this year, and several more have been injured.
"What I'm trying to figure out is what is causing these accidents," Brooks said.
A fair number of wildland firefighters also die of heart attacks during the season. Brooks said he wants to know if there's something about the demanding seasonal job that puts wildland firefighters at greater risk of heart attacks.
Brooks wonders about the smoke firefighters inhale while doing physically demanding work. Many cities in the Pacific Northwest this year issued health alerts due to smoky air.
Ultimately, firefighters themselves might be part of the problem when it comes to calculating risks while protecting natural resources and property.
"There's a little bit of a hero culture," said John Freemuth, a Boise State University environmental policy professor and public lands expert. "There is a bonding with everybody. It can create a culture of where you kind of collectively ignore things you shouldn't ignore."
Dhaka, Sept 2 (UNB) – A two-day photo exhibition on Rohingya crisis will begin in the city on Tuesday.
The exhibition titled ‘Rohingya Crisis: 1 Year on’ will be presented by the government of Bangladesh, the Inter Sector Coordination Group and the United Nations.
It will remain open at Bay’s Edgewater Gallery in Gulshan from 10 am to 8 pm.
A collection of photographs will be displayed shared by the government and over 40 humanitarian agencies that are responding to the Rohingya crisis in Cox’s Bazar.
The photographs bring to life last year’s initial influx, the resilience of the Rohingya, the host community, emergency mitigation and international support to the Rohingya people.
Contributions by IOM, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and WHO have made it possible to curate and present this exhibition of emotive photographs that tell a compelling story, said the organizers.
Dhaka, Sept 2 (UNB) – Dhaka University Cultural Society (DUCS) and Jahangirnagar University Sangskritik Jote (JUSC) have jointly become champions in an inter-university cultural competition organised by Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST).
The daylong competition, Ankur 2018, was held at the MIST main auditorium on Saturday, said a press release.
MIST became first runners-up while Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) second runners-up of the competition.
Among the judges, there were filmmaker and television director Giasuddin Selim, writer Sadat Hossain, and dance artists Dolly Iqbal and Farhana Chowdhury Baby.
The winning performance of Dhaka University team included dance, puppet dance, recitation, acting, music and so on.
The performance of another winning team of JU also included the combination of modern dance, folk dance, recitation, music and mime. The team portrayed the Rohingya crisis through mime.
Students from different public and private universities actively participated in various segments of the daylong programme.
Los Angeles, Sep 1 (AP/UNB) — An actress who appeared on the TV medical drama "ER" and starred in the film "Stand and Deliver" was fatally shot by police officers in Southern California after they say she pointed a replica handgun at them.
Vanessa Marquez, who gained attention last year when she said George Clooney helped blacklist her from Hollywood, died at a hospital following Thursday's shooting at her apartment in South Pasadena, just outside Los Angeles.
South Pasadena police officers responded to a call from Marquez's landlord that she needed medical help. When they arrived she was having a seizure, Lt. Joe Mendoza with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Friday.
Paramedics treated Marquez, 49, who improved and began talking with three officers and a mental health clinician who spent an hour-and-a-half trying to talk her into getting medical help, Mendoza said.
Marquez became uncooperative, appeared unable to care for herself and seemed to have mental health issues, he said.
At some point, Mendoza said Marquez got what turned out to be a BB gun and pointed it at the officers, prompting two of them to shoot.
"It looked like a real gun," he said, adding that it's unclear where the gun was during her lengthy interaction with police.
The officers were wearing body cameras but footage won't be released for at least six months pending the investigation, Mendoza said.
Terence Towles Canote, a close friend of Marquez's, said the actress was having health and financial problems but that she showed no signs of depression or other mental troubles. She still talked about her dream of winning an Oscar one day and was hopeful for a career comeback, he said.
"She was looking forward to life," Canote said. "This is not a woman who wanted to die."
Marquez posted extensively on Facebook and elsewhere about her health problems, saying she was terminally ill and had seizures and celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can damage the small intestine if gluten is ingested.
In 2014, she said in an online post that she had spent her life savings on doctors and hospitals who didn't properly treat her and that she couldn't work or "do most basic everyday functions."
Marquez had a recurring role during the first several years of "ER," which ran from 1994 to 2009. She also appeared on episodes of "Seinfeld," ''Melrose Place" and "Malcolm & Eddie" but her career largely fizzled after "ER."
Marquez gained attention last year after tweeting that Clooney helped blacklist her from Hollywood when she complained about sexual harassment and racist comments among their "ER" co-stars. Clooney said in a statement to "US Weekly" at the time that he was just an actor on the show and was unaware of any effort to blacklist her.
"If she was told I was involved in any decision about her career then she was lied to," he said. "The fact that I couldn't affect her career is only surpassed by the fact that I wouldn't."
In one of her social media posts, Marquez talked about being grateful to be a part of "Stand and Deliver," a 1988 film about a math teacher who motivated struggling students at a tough East Los Angeles high school.
"If you're truly fortunate, you get to live your dream and do the work you were put on this Earth to do," she wrote. "If you're really, really fortunate you do a film that makes history and affects the lives of millions of people ... It will live on long after we're gone."
Chicago, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — Learning disabilities and other special education needs are common in children born with opioid-related symptoms from their mother's drug use while pregnant, according to the first big U.S. study to examine potential long-term problems in these infants.
About 1 in 7 affected children required special classroom services for problems including developmental delays and speech or language difficulties, compared with about 1 in 10 children not exposed to opioids before birth, the study found.
The study highlights the "absolutely critical" importance of early detection and intervention, before these children reach school age, to give them a better chance of academic success, said Dr. Nathalie Maitre, a developmental specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "It really confirms what those of us who do neurodevelopment follow-up of these children are seeing."
The study involved about 7,200 children aged 3 to 8 enrolled in Tennessee's Medicaid program. Nearly 2,000 of them were born with what's called newborn abstinence syndrome. It's a collection of symptoms caused by withdrawal from their pregnant mother's use of opioid drugs like prescription painkillers, heroin or fentanyl. The drugs can pass through the placenta into the developing nervous system.
Tremors, hard-to-soothe crying, diarrhea and difficulty feeding and sleeping are among signs that infants are going through withdrawal.
In Tennessee, hard hit by the nation's opioid epidemic, the rate of affected infants soared from less than one per 1,000 hospital births in 1999 to 13 per 1,000 births in 2015.
Whether the study results would apply elsewhere is uncertain but in Tennessee, most children born with withdrawal symptoms are enrolled in that state's Medicaid program. Also in Tennessee, a syndrome diagnosis qualifies kids to receive early intervention services.
Maitre, who wasn't involved in the study, said she suspects the research may underestimate the magnitude of the problem, because it only captures kids who haven't slipped through the cracks.
The only previous comparable study was in Australia, published last year, showing that affected children had worse academic test scores in seventh grade than other kids.
The new study looked at how many kids were referred for possible learning disabilities and received school-based services for related difficulties. It did not examine academic performance.
Results were released Thursday by the journal Pediatrics .
The researchers said taking into account other factors that could affect children's development — including birth weight and mothers' education and tobacco use — didn't change the results.
Study co-author Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University said it makes sense that opioid use in pregnancy could affect children's later development. Some studies have found brain differences in affected children including in a region involved in certain types of learning.
But Dr. Mary-Margaret Fill, the lead author and a researcher with Tennessee's health department, said these children "are definitely not doomed. There are great programs and services that exist to help these children and their families. We just have to make sure they get plugged in."