Technical Talk – Hot Topics 11/12/19

Posted: Nov 14, 2019

Emergency Response and how to manage stress as an EHS Professional

Grace Under Duress


Greater San Jose Chapter ASSP welcomed guests into their Board Meeting and later joined the group for a hot lunch over Hot Topics led by WISE. WISE members Bill Stettiner CHST, and Eileen Woodbury, ASP, MS were joined on the panel by ASSP member Yashira Frederick, CIH, CSP. Audience participation was encouraged as we read from questions provided through WISE Facebook and emails to

The panelists were interviewed about real life experiences and case studies while under physical duress and distraction to simulate a crisis. The US Scoville Measurement went from 300-3M and each participant experienced a range of responses while remaining focused. It was a demonstration of grace under duress. See the embedded video for reaction to questions.

The Questions were on difficult employees, chemical spills response, ADA evacuation, Ammonia leaks, Earthquake response, Active Shooter and the Good Samaritan response for public emergencies. See the attachment for the best management practices discussed.

Special mention:

Guest and non ASSP member, Apple Employee Ed Hayes supported the panel content by including that in the case of CPR, non-EHS personnel are not required to do a pulse check but shall identify the need for CPR by determining breath through chest rising and falling.

Maria Sandoval –President Elect supported content by stating that Dr. Heimlich’s estate does not wish to associate the term “Heimlich maneuver” in regard to choking victims first aid. We shall now use the term Upward thrust to describe the rescue measures.


All panelist shall receive a plaque for participation recognized by the ASSP and an ASSP T-Shirt. (Dr. Patience Adagba PhD was not able to attend due to travel but shall return to give a lecture at a later date.)

The best management practices / effective resolutions were:

Difficult employees are to be reminded of the Fire Code and Response statute which indicates that they are responsible to evacuate in the case of an emergency. Another comment was to remind the employee that there can be disciplinary consequences for not following protocol.

Chemical spills made (by an untrained or authorized employee) and not reported can cause substantial effects on business environmentally, occupational exposure and fiscally. The best management practices were to lock and secure the access points, identify who to call on the outside of the barrier and ensure that there are adequate spills supplies, logs and drain protections in place. To avoid contamination with the unknown, use the rule of thumb – have the experts in the area address and communicate to respond, the untrained should stay as far away as they can and no closer than you can see the spill by holding up your thumb to measure.

ADA evacuations; In the case of a disabled employee who needs to evacuate or requires assistance during an emergency – there should be a room buddy assigned to assist this person to a safe location and a back-up for this person as well trained in handling their limitations.

Ammonia leaks: Ensure that your facility has Maintenance PM and a communication system to identify a leak. In the event of a leak, and you are inside, it is recommended to shelter in place. In the event that you are outside, observe the direction of the windsock and shelter upwind to avoid the lighter than air escape of the pressured vessel NH3 which converts to a gas cloud. Other practices were “good neighbor” pf alerting business downwind in addition to the required reporting structure of regulations.

Earthquake Response: Based on the location you are to remain calm, and secure protection of vital organs and the neck area. When possible evacuate the building. Go to the safest point in feet from the building. The expert states at least 1.5 times the height of the building. This of course would already be designated in most businesses at a RALLY POINT, but in case you were not informed upon entering, that is a safe distance.

Active shooter – The panel agreed to shelter in place, unless you were in direct line of fire with the person who has bypassed all other security measure. The DHS recommends that you evacuate, hide out if trapped, and if able act against the shooter to disarm them.

Good Samaritan: Keep abreast of the latest requirements for signs associated with emergent physical distress including choking, Cardiac arrest and the active shooter anxiety.