Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ensuring Your Disaster Relief Donations Are Well Received

With Hurricane Harvey’s effects being felt in Texas and Louisiana for some time to come, businesses may want to help victims by making corporate donations. Corporate decision-makers should carefully consider ways to contribute, since some recent post-disaster efforts have not helped as intended.

Depending on your organizaton's size, you may have access to supplies or a service that will be useful to victims and aid workers. The New York Times recently listed the local organizations that will accept certain donations. Your efforts can be coordinated with an accredited organization or the local government to determine whether your donations qualify.

Risk management professionals who would like to help Harvey victims directly can visit the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) IICF Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund. The fund was established in response to a surge of inquiries from its community as to how it can help. The fund has already received $80,000 in commitments, and the IICF will forward all contributions to local nonprofits assisting victims in the area, including the American Red Cross and specifically its Hurricane Harvey disaster fund.

During catastrophes, experts generally encourage these sorts of finance-based efforts in lieu of sending tangible items without a partnership with a local non-profit. Many organizations suggest that it is best to let the aid workers on the ground use their allocated funds to get necessity items like water, toiletries and food. In its Tips For Giving In Times Of Crisis page, dissuades companies from sending supplies ad hoc:
“[This] type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to an impacted region, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims.” 

It has been well documented that donations of tangible items – especially used ones – can cause unintended problems. Some never reach those in need and eventually wind up in landfills; and certain used clothes, like old shoes and Halloween costumes, might insult survivors.

According to Kansas disaster response coordinator Hollie Tapley, about 75% of donated goods will go to waste despite the donors’ good intentions. “Money is the best way because we know culturally what people need,” Tapley told Kansas State Network before Harvey hit Texas. “One group needs something totally different than another group.”

Blood donations are always in high demand following a disaster and national blood banks sometimes hold emergency drives to allocate blood to the affected areas, which might not have the resources to hold their own. If you are determined to reach the affected area, confirm those details with the donation center’s organizer. Bloodsource’s donation locations can be found on the group’s website. The Red Cross also provides information for potential donors online.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ford to repair U.S. police vehicles after carbon monoxide concerns

CIRSA has single-gas monitors for carbon monoxide testing for use by our members. Our staff industrial hygienists can assist you if needed. Please contact Loss Control for more information, 800-228-7136 or
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said Friday it will pay to repair police versions of its Ford Explorer SUVs to correct possible carbon monoxide leaks that may be linked to crashes and injuries after U.S. regulators escalated an investigation into 1.33 million vehicles. Ford said it will cover the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Explorer SUVs that may be tied to after-market installation of police equipment. The company said the modifications may have left holes in the underbody of the vehicles. 

“If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin,” Ford said in a statement.Ford acted amid concerns by some police departments about the safety of officers. The city of Austin, Texas said Friday it was removing all 400 of the city’s Ford Explorer SUVs from use. 

Several Texas media outlets cited a city memo that said 20 police officers have been found with elevated levels of carbon monoxide and three have not returned to work.Ford said it has not found any elevated levels of carbon monoxide in regular Ford Explorers, but NHTSA is investigating reports of exhaust odors in those vehicles. Ford did not say how much it expected to pay to repair police vehicles and said its investigation is ongoing. 

On Thursday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was upgrading and expanding a probe into 1.33 million Ford Explorer SUVs over reports of exhaust odors in vehicle compartments.Police have reported two crashes that may be linked to carbon monoxide exposure and a third incident involving injuries related to carbon monoxide exposure. 

The auto safety agency said it was also aware of more than 2,700 complaints that may be linked to exhaust orders and possible exposure to carbon monoxide and 41 injuries among police and civilian vehicles in the probe covering 2011-2017 model year Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles. 

Ford has issued four technical service bulletins related to the exhaust odor issue to address complaints from police fleets and other owners, NHTSA and Ford said. NHTSA said it is evaluating preliminary testing that suggests carbon monoxide levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios. 

NHTSA said it recently learned that the police version of the Ford Explorer was experiencing exhaust manifold cracks.The agency said the reported injuries include “loss of consciousness, with the majority indicating nausea, headaches, or light-headedness.” 


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First Aid for Mental Health

Combined Police Liability Meeting & Safety Forum


Wednesday, September 6, 2017 & Thursday, September 7, 2017

8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (Breakfast & Registration - 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.)

Northglenn Recreation Center: 11801 Community Center Drive, Northglenn, CO 80233

To register, email or call 800.228.7136 by Friday, September 1, 2017

Admission is FREE and open to all CIRSA members 

“First-Aid for Mental Health”  is a topic that affects a variety of different individuals and departments within your entity. During this presentation the Mental Health First Aid Colorado organization will discuss this ground breaking program that teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges.  Our goal is to provide these tools to law enforcement, public works, parks & recreation staff, and anyone at your entity who deal with public and might face these challenges.

Members are eligible to be reimbursed for this event, click here for policy details and form regarding CIRSA’s Travel Reimbursement guidelines.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Download the CIRSA mobile app for a chance to win an Appy Hour!

How it Works:
Simply download the CIRSA app before August 31st to be entered to win.  Each person in your entity who downloads the app gets a contest entry.  The more people who download the app the greater your chance of winning an Appy Hour on CIRSA.

If someone at your entity has already uploaded the CIRSA app they will be entered into the drawing automatically to win an Appy Hour.

We'll provide three member entities with their own Appy Hour and winners will be announced in early September!  When the winners are selected we will work with our primary contact to determine what would work best; a breakfast, lunch, or social hour.
Boost your Chances of Winning:
Take the recently launched safety quiz on Beating Driver Fatigue from our mobile app and if you score 100%, you'll get five (yes five!) additional entries into the Appy Hour contest!  Each person at you entity who gets a perfect score will be eligible for these additional entries.  When accessing the app, you'll find the safety quizzes under the menu bar.
Download the App Today:
Just go to the Apple Store or Google Play Store (please note these links will only take you to the store if you are on a mobile device), search for "CIRSA," and install it on your device.  It's that easy!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Email Scam Alert

Dear Members:

Over the past few weeks, two CIRSA members have reported that they were the target of an email scam requesting payment to a vendor for an invoice. In one instance, the email was recognized as a scam, but in the other, a payment of almost $60,000 was made to the scammer. We are alerting you some of the pertinent details in the hope that they will help you recognize the scam if it is attempted against your entity:
  • The emails in question appeared to be legitimate, because the sender appeared to be the entity’s Manager or Mayor.  However, closer inspection of the “from” field would likely have revealed that the email did not come from the purported sender or the municipality’s email domain, but rather, from “ceo.mayor” at a Gmail address.
  • In both instances, the email was titled PROJECT FUNDING, and both emails addressed a staff member by name with the following message: 
    “I want you to send a payment to a VENDOR for a maintenance project and I want this done today. Get back to me Asap.”
  • Both emails were sent to employees who were in fact responsible for financial matters in their municipalities. Both emails closed with the appropriate Manager or Mayor’s name.
In one of the instances, the employee called the Mayor, who verified that the email had not come from him, and the matter ended there.
However, in the other instance, the employee recipient attempted to call the Manager to discuss the request but was not able to make contact. At this point the employee replied to the email sender asking to discuss the request. Of course, this reply went back to the scammer who, still pretending to be the Manager, stated that he could not talk on the phone, directing the employee to send payment to the vendor and to advise when this had been accomplished. The scammer provided a total, a vendor name/address, and a bank account and routing number with instructions to wire transfer the amount, which was nearly $60,000. The employee followed these directions. Subsequently, the municipality discovered that this was a scam.
Here are some thoughts on what to look at when receiving email requests for payment that may be suspicious:
  • Double check the email address to make sure that the person sending the email is legitimate. Hovering your cursor over the sender’s email address may help you identify whether the email is in fact from the purported sender.
  • Check for other potential red flags, including:
    • The title of the email is vague, such as “Project Funding.”
    • Payment is being demanded in a manner not in accordance with your normal procedures.
    • Payment is being demanded by someone who’s not within the normal chain of command for payment requests.
    • The vendor is not in your accounts payable system, and/or no contract or purchase order is associated with the invoice.
    • Payment is being demanded on an unexplained or unwarranted “rush” basis.
    • Payment is being demanded by wire transfer rather than by check.
    • The individual demanding the payment is available by email, but not in person, and refuses to speak on the phone.
We predict that scamming efforts against municipalities will only get worse. This scammer will likely be emboldened by the almost $60k payday he or she enjoyed at the municipality’s expense, and it’s likely that there are many more of the same ilk out there. CIRSA members will need to be vigilant to ensure that taxpayer funds aren’t falling into the hands of scammers.