Irma Caused 129 Deaths, More Than $53 Billion in Damages, Hurricane Center Concludes

(TNS) - After six months of chasing down and documenting the death and destruction Hurricane Irma left behind from the eastern Caribbean to the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center released its report on Monday.

It underscores the wide swath of damage left behind by the massive storm, which brought wind and storm surge to much of Florida last September.

At least 129 deaths are attributed to the storm, either directly or indirectly. Irma's powerful storm surge, seas, winds and flooding were directly responsible for 44 deaths, concluded the team of three hurricane specialists who wrote the report, John Cangialosi, Andrew Latto and Robbie Berg. At least another 85 deaths were indirectly related to the storm.

Google Tests 911 Cellphone Service to Pinpoint Caller Location

Most 911 call centers are capable of locating landline callers, but they struggle to find cellphone users when they need emergency help. “The 911 system was designed long ago for home phones,” said Fiona Lee, Google’s global evangelist for Android Emergency Location Service (ELS).

There is a reason why 911 call centers have trouble locating cellphone users. If the caller is outdoors, the phone's GPS chip can connect with satellites or with a cell tower; the 911 operator will know the latitude and longitude of the caller — within 164 feet or so — most of the time. However, a call made from inside a building has a harder time connecting with a satellite, which can throw off the caller's location by several hundred feet.

4 Ways to Reduce Long-Term Risk in Municipal IT Systems (Contributed)

For most municipal governments right now, times are good. Sales tax revenues are way up, and property values are also reaching new highs — thereby increasing municipal revenues. This stands of course in stark contrast to the brutal Great Recession a decade ago, when collapsing home values, unemployment and plunging sales tax revenues forced cities and counties to make painful cost-cutting decisions.

California Spent $1.8B Fighting 2017 Wildfires

California state agencies spent nearly $1.8 billion fighting fierce wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last year, legislative budget experts reported Thursday.

The federal government will reimburse most of the costs, but the state will still need to come up with about $371 million on top of the state’s existing wildfire budget, the Legislative Analyst’s Office told the Senate Budget committee. That shouldn’t be a problem because state revenue has far exceeded expectations so far this fiscal year and the general fund is flush with cash.

California Fire Officials Request $100 Million to Fix Mutual-Aid System

(TNS) - California fire officials asked lawmakers Tuesday for $100 million to improve the state’s strained mutual-aid system, which is designed to quickly rally first responders in an emergency, such as the deadly fires that ravaged the North Bay last year.

At a legislative hearing in Sacramento, fire chiefs and emergency officials said wildfires across the state last year exposed shortcomings in the 60-year-old system.

Report: Number of Qualified Medical Evaluators in California Workers’ Comp Fell

The number of qualified medical evaluators resolve disputes over California workers’ compensation claim issues fell 20 percent between January 2012 and September 2017, according to a new California Workers’ Compensation Institute study.

However, the CWCI study shows that the impact on QME accessibility was partially offset by an increase in the median number of office locations per QME, which doubled over the same period.

Does workers’ comp cover on-the-job injury caused by spider nightmare?

Injuries to workers can occur in many ways, but few employers expect such injuries to come out of an employee's nightmare. When that happens, is the injury covered by workers' compensation? According to the Court of Appeals of Arkansas, the answer is no. But why?

In November 2015, Shawn Hansen was employed by the City of Siloam Springs, Ark., as a firefighter and an EMT. Hansen worked 24-hour shifts. During his shifts, he was required to stay on premises unless he was performing a work-related errand or activity. Because of the 24-hour scheduling scheme, the city provided sleeping arrangements and encouraged the employees to sleep during nighttime hours.

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