On July 14, 1980, at approximately 9:30 pm, a fire in the Extendicare Skilled Nursing Facility in Mississauga, Ontario, resulted in the deaths of 25 patients, most of them elderly. The area of origin of the accidental fire was a patient room on the top floor of the three-story, fire-resistive building. Significant factors that contributed to the fatalities in this fire were rapid fire development, the failure to extinguish the fire in its incipient stage, failure to keep the door to the room of origin closed, improper staff actions, and delayed alarm to the fire department.
Recent observations and model simulations have highlighted the sensitivity of the forest-tundra ecotone to climatic forcing. In contrast, paleoecological studies have not provided evidence of tree-line fluctuations in response to Holocene climatic changes in Alaska, suggesting that the forest-tundra boundary in certain areas may be relatively stable at multicentennial to millennial time scales. We conducted a multiproxy study of sediment cores from an Alaskan lake near the altitudinal limits of key boreal-forest species. Paleoecological data were compared with independent climatic reconstructions to assess ecosystem responses of the forest tundra boundary to Little Ice Age (LIA) climatic fluctuations. Pollen, diatom, charcoal, macrofossil, and magnetic analyses provide the first continuous record of vegetation fire-climate interactions at decadal to centennial time scales during the past 700 years from southern Alaska. Boreal-forest diebacks characterized by declines of Picea mariana, P. glauca, and tree Betula occurred during the LIA (AD 1500-1800), whereas shrubs (Alnus viridis, Betula glandulosa/nana) and herbaceous taxa (Epilobium, Aconitum) expanded. Marked increases in charcoal abundance and changes in magnetic properties suggest increases in fire importance and soil erosion during the same period. In addition, the conspicuous reduction or disappearance of certain aquatic (e.g., Isoetes, Nuphar, Pediastrum) and wetland (Sphagnum) plants and major shifts in diatom assemblages suggest pronounced lake-level fluctuations and rapid ecosystem reorganization in response to LIA climatic deterioration. Our results imply that temperature shifts of 1-2 degrees C, when accompanied by major changes in moisture balance, can greatly alter high-altitudinal terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic ecosystems, including conversion between boreal-forest tree line and tundra. The climatic and ecosystem variations in our study area appear to be coherent with changes in solar irradiance, suggesting that changes in solar activity contributed to the environmental instability of the past 700 years.
The use of methyl alcohol (methanol) as an igniting fluid is very dangerous. Nineteen patients (17 males and 2 females), burned while using this fluid for lighting barbecues or filling lamps and stoves, have recently been treated at the Burn Unit at the Karolinska Hospital. A mean of 23% body surface was involved and many of the burns were deep dermal or full thickness. Ninety percent of the patients had facial burns. Hospital stay averaged 23 days with 2.2 operations. It seems that previous alarms ( Nordstr öm & Nyl én, 1975) remain unheeded by both manufacturers and consumers. The public must be warned about the dangers associated with the use of methanol. Briquettes as solid fuel for barbecues and safer ignition fluids ought to be popularized .
Systematic conservation plans have only recently considered the dynamic nature of ecosystems. Methods have been developed to incorporate climate change, population dynamics, and uncertainty in reserve design, but few studies have examined how to account for natural disturbance. Considering natural disturbance in reserve design may be especially important for the world's remaining intact areas, which still experience active natural disturbance regimes. We developed a spatially explicit, dynamic simulation model, CONSERV, which simulates patch dynamics and fire, and used it to evaluate the efficacy of hypothetical reserve networks in northern Canada. We designed six networks based on conventional reserve design methods, with different conservation targets for woodland caribou habitat, high-quality wetlands, vegetation, water bodies, and relative connectedness. We input the six reserve networks into CONSERV and tracked the ability of each to maintain initial conservation targets through time under an active natural disturbance regime. None of the reserve networks maintained all initial targets, and some over-represented certain features, suggesting that both effectiveness and efficiency of reserve design could be improved through use of spatially explicit dynamic simulation during the planning process. Spatial simulation models of landscape dynamics are commonly used in natural resource management, but we provide the first illustration of their potential use for reserve design. Spatial simulation models could be used iteratively to evaluate competing reserve designs and select targets that have a higher likelihood of being maintained through time. Such models could be combined with dynamic planning techniques to develop a general theory for reserve design in an uncertain world.
A hypothetical aircraft accident scenario is described in which the pilot survives but some of the passengers are fatally injured. Information is provided on the acute situational anxiety that may occur in aircrew after any aviation accident, especially one in which lives are lost. A course of action is discussed which encourages early recognition and treatment of the potentially debilitating phenomenon termed "post-accident anxiety syndrome".
Air consumption, oxygen uptake (VO(2)), carbon dioxide output (VCO(2)) and respiratory exchange ratio (RER=VCO(2)/VO(2)) were measured directly from the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as 36 professional firefighters (three women) completed scenarios of high-rise stair climbing and fifth floor search and rescue. During stair climbing VO(2) was 75+/-8% VO(2max) (mean+/-SD), RER=1.10+/-0.10, and heart rate=91+/-3% maximum (based on maximum treadmill data). Firefighters stopped climbing on consuming 55% of the air cylinder then descended. In the fifth floor search and rescue VO(2) was slightly lower than stair climbing but RER remained elevated (1.13+/-0.12) reflecting high anaerobic metabolism. The first low air alarm sounded, indicating 25% of the air remaining in a "30-min cylinder", during the stair climb at 8 min with 19 of 36 sounding before 12 min. Aggressive air management strategies are required for safety in high-rise firefighting.