If you’ve ever wanted to become an Arlington firefighter or EMT, now’s your chance.
Arlington County is beginning a new round of firefighter/EMT recruitment starting today, May 11. According to a fire department recruitment web page, the process will remain open through Tuesday May 22, 2012.
The application process for becoming an Arlington firefighter is a bit daunting, however. The following are the steps one must go through in order to be offered the job, according to the fire department website:
- Submission of online application
- Application screening
- Communication of eligibility via letter and/or email
- Written examination
- CPAT Practice Sessions
- Submission of Background Package
- CPAT Official Test
Fingerprinting & Ongoing Background Investigation
- Panel Interview with Fire Department Personnel
- Conditional Offer of Employment
- Polygraph Examination
- Psychological and Physical Examinations
- Uniform Fitting
- Interview with the Fire Chief
- Final Offer of Employment
Flags in Arlington are flying at half-staff today in honor of Alexandria paramedic Joshua Weissman.
Weissman died last week after falling 20-30 feet from I-395 while responding to a vehicle fire near Shirlington. Yesterday Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell authorized flags in Alexandria and Arlington to fly at half-staff in Weissman’s memory.
Family, friends, fellow firefighters and the public are mourning Weissman’s death at funeral services in Alexandria this afternoon. Some 2,000 people and 200 fire vehicles are expected to take part in the funeral procession and services, which have shut down several busy streets around the city and prompted an early dismissal from Alexandria schools.
Joshua Weissman, 33, was on the scene of a vehicle fire on I-395 near Shirlington when he fell through a small gap between the northbound and HOV lanes, on the bridges over Four Mile Run. The Bristow resident, a seven-year veteran of the Alexandria Fire Department, fell into the creek below and was knocked unconscious.
Weissman was extricated from the water by rescuers from Arlington and Alexandria, and was rushed via ambulance to Washington Hospital Center. In the end, however, Weissman’s severe head injury was proved to be fatal.
The Alexandria Fire Department is providing counseling for its personnel and for the Weissman family, including his wife. The couple did not have children. Weissman was based out of Alexandria’s Seminary Road fire station.
A swarm of angry bees in an apartment building injured one man and kept police and firefighters at bay last night.
The man was apparently trying to get a bee hive out of a second-story apartment in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood when he was stung multiple times. The man reportedly suffered some sort of allergic reaction, and was attended to by Arlington County paramedics.
Police and firefighters, meanwhile, stood watch over the building, at 1300 N. Rhodes Street, while they waited for a contract exterminator to show up.
The county issued a short statement to ARLnow.com last night confirming they’re “currently investigating reports of gastrointestinal (GI) illness at a long-term care facility.”
Citing “confidentiality rules,” a Department of Human Services spokesman refused to identify the facility. A source, however, tells us the facility is the Sunrise at Bluemont Park (5910 Wilson Blvd) senior living community.
The source says paramedics were called to the building on Wednesday. Medics then called the health department.
“We have not yet identified the cause of the illness; however, it is not uncommon to have GI illness due to Norovirus this time of year,” DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick said. “We are working with the facility on ways to control the spread of illness.”
The county said members of the public can help stop the spread of Norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses by washing one’s hands frequently with warm water and soap for 20 seconds and by staying at home if you feel sick.
“Please postpone visiting an assisted living facility, nursing home or hospital” if you’re sick and “keep your sick children home from school,” the county advised.
The woman swiped merchandise from the Payless shoe store on the second level of the mall, according to police spokesperson Det. Crystal Nosal. As she was running to the escalator, she sprayed pepper spray at a manager who was chasing after her.
The substance caused numerous people in the mall to develop symptoms that included difficulty breathing and burning eyes.
Firefighters set up a triage area outside the mall. A dozen people were treated and five people were brought to the hospital, including the store manager, Nosal said. They’re expected to be fine.
Witnesses described a foul odor in the mall shortly after the incident.
“There was a smell, a funny smell, and people were coming through [the hall] coughing and gagging,” said Danielle Davis, who works in the mall building. “Once I saw that… I turned around.”
The woman got away and is still at large. Police will be reviewing surveillance footage in an attempt to identify her.
A fire department spokesperson initially said the mall was evacuated during the incident. Nosal said everyone who left the mall did so on their own volition.
Update at 3:25 p.m. — Police describe the suspect as “an African American female, medium height, mid-length dark hair, red shiny puffy jacket, tight light colored pants, and white shoes.”
Nearly every day, the number of Arlington County ambulances ready to respond to calls reaches zero, prompting dispatchers to broadcast a warning to supervisors while they scramble to find medics that can be put back into service.
While there are often other options available in the event a call comes in while all ,paramedic units are busy, Arlington Fire Chief James Schwartz says it’s a problem the department is aware of and trying to address.
“EMS is one of my highest priorities,” Schwartz said. “Almost every day we run out of available medic units.”
Medical calls make up about 60 percent of the fire department’s call volume, according to Schwartz. At any given time, about seven paramedic units are on duty in the county. Of those, two or three are usually out at a hospital, delivering patients or restocking their supplies.
When the number of paramedic units reaches the ‘critical’ level — one or none — the first order of business is usually to see if any units out at the hospital can be put into service. Another option is to take advantage of the county’s mutual aid agreement with the Alexandria, Fairfax County and Reagan National Airport fire departments.
It’s a common, daily occurrence for Fairfax medics to respond to calls in the western part of the county, or for airport ambulance crews to respond to calls in the Crystal City area. Every day, Arlington fire and medic units will also respond to calls outside the county.
In the event that a paramedic crew is temporarily unavailable, a fire engine can be sent ahead. Since the county’s fire trucks are often staffed with trained paramedics and equipped with advanced life support gear, sending the engine first means there is no delay in a patient’s on-scene medical treatment. But an ambulance is still needed to take the patient to the hospital.
In a real pinch, a “surge unit” in the Clarendon/Courthouse area can be put into action by moving a fire crew to an unstaffed ambulance.
Schwartz said he’s unaware of any instances in which medics were delayed and a patient was harmed as a result.
The paramedic situation was discussed during this year’s budget, Schwartz said, adding that county policymakers are aware of the problem and often ask about it. He suggested that the department will seek funding for another medic unit during the next round of budget talks.
“I would expect that it would be a topic of this year’s process,” he said.