California City Gets ‘Comfort Dog’ to Soothe 911 Dispatchers

(TNS) - For 911 dispatcher Lynette Starnes, the most chilling calls are the ones that come in from locations she can’t track.

“A stabbing, a homicide, a medical aid, we’re trained to get through that stuff,” she said. “But if I don’t know where you’re at, we can’t help you, and that is my personal biggest stress.”

Starnes has learned to weather the pressures of the job after more than three decades as a dispatcher for the San Rafael Police Department. But sometimes, she said, it’s tough to shake the anxiety.

Probe Finds PG&E Failed to Inspect Transmission Lines That Caused 2018 Wildfire

Bankrupt California power producer PG&E Corp. did not properly inspect and replace transmission lines before a faulty wire sparked a wildfire that killed more than 80 people in 2018, a probe by a state regulator has concluded.

The Caribou-Palermo transmission line was identified as the cause of the Camp Fire last year, which virtually incinerated the Northern California town of Paradise and stands as the state’s most lethal blaze.

California Has Earthquakes, Wildfires, Floods and Volcanoes

(TNS) - Margaret Mangan didn’t sleep well in the weeks following the Ridgecrest, Calif., earthquakes. The July shaking triggered a swarm of smaller tremors in the nearby Coso Volcanic Field, a cluster of lava domes and cinder cones at the northern end of the Mojave Desert. And it was Mangan’s job to watch for a possible eruption.

“We were pretty much on 24-7 vigilance,” said Mangan, the longtime scientist-in-charge of the U.S. Geological Survey’s California Volcano Observatory.

California Utility Creates New Tech to Stop Wildfires

(TNS) — California utilities are experimenting with a new technology that proponents say could help prevent both electricity shutoffs and equipment failure-related wildfires.

The technology comes as the Pacific Gas & Electric faces intense criticism over its Public Safety Power Shutoff program, which has led to hundreds of thousands of Californians being left without power, often for days at a time, in an effort to prevent failing equipment from starting wildfires.

Dive Boat on Which 34 Died in Southern California Exempt From Safety Rules

The diving boat that caught fire on Labor Day off Southern California, killing 34 people, was among hundreds of small vessels exempted by the U.S. Coast Guard from stricter safety rules designed to make it easier for passengers to escape, according to a newspaper report Monday.

The Conception was one of 325 boats built before 1996 and given exemptions from standards imposed on new vessels, according to records cited by the Los Angeles Times. The newer rules required escape hatches at least 32 inches wide and illuminated exit signs.

California Lawmakers Push for Cell Backup After Fires

(TNS) — State legislators plan to push for measures to require at least 72 hours of backup power at cell towers after phone and internet service failed during widespread PG&E power outages.

Many cell towers have generators installed that can run days without refueling, but some have batteries that only last a few hours in locations where space limits or local regulations prohibit more. And in the middle of shut-offs or fire evacuations, companies can’t always access sites to install or refuel generators, cutting off service.

PG&E Cuts Power to 50K California Homes And Businesses During Wildfire Risk

About 50,000 homes and businesses across Northern California were without power on Wednesday during the latest planned outage instituted by utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to guard against risk of wildfire during dry, windy weather.

The precautionary shutoffs included considerably fewer customers than originally projected as a spokeswoman for the utility said improving weather conditions allowed them to keep the lights on in many areas.

Report on California Workers’ Comp Shows Steady Independent Medical Review Activity

More than 15,400 independent medical reviews a month are issued in California’s worker’s compensation system, according to a new report from the Department of Industrial Relations.

The DIR this week issued a progress report on the its independent medical review program. IMR is the medical dispute resolution process for the state’s workers’ comp system that uses medical expertise to obtain consistent, evidence-based decisions.

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