Tag Archives: school saftey

If I ask you to stop vaping, it’s because I don’t want you to relive my nightmare

Photo courtesy of Vaping360/Flickr

The first reported death in the U.S. from an e-cigarette explosion was of my older brother, Thomas, in 2015. So it’s no wonder why the proliferation of vaping on campus makes me uncomfortable—so uncomfortable that I have walked up to people and asked them to stop. And now I’m writing about it here in hopes that a tragedy can lead people to understand the dangers involved and avoid similar incidents.

Thre first wrongful death lawsuit in the CourtHouse News database over an alleged e-cig explosion was filed last month. The complaint alleges that a vaporizer device launched shrapnel into 30-year-old Thomas Gangi’s head while he was in his Bohmemia, N.Y. home, in Nov. 2015.

Gangi died in the fire, his estate says — CourtHouse News

I am sure most people that attend the Ammerman campus have walked through a big cloud of vape smoke, sometimes where there’s a sign that says no smoking is allowed on campus. But it’s not the smoke that concerns me the most. Vaporizers exploding are on the rise, along with their popularity among younger people and those looking for a way to quit smoking cigarettes.

I will not deny that when vaporizers first became readily available to the public, they piqued my interest because it was thought to be a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking and had many wonderful alluring flavors. I think that if more people knew how common the hazards of vaporizers exploding are they would maybe rethink their usage.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, between January 2009 and Dec. 31, 2016, there were 195 incidents reported from e-cigs exploding causing fire and injury; 121 of them exploded while in use or on one’s person. The explosions are due to the lithium-ion battery that is used to power the e-cig, according to the USFA.


Screenshot taken from usfa.fema.gov

The USFA also reported that in this time frame there had been no deaths linked to the explosion of e-cigs, but there is new information attesting to my brother’s death. The USFA report does not list his death because at the time when the reports were published, the final determination for his cause of death had not been finalized.

Lithium-ion batteries were also the cause of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone explosions.

I had never in a million years thought that something so insignificant could kill someone, but my reality is a lesson for everyone. The sight of vaporizers makes me relive a nightmare that I hope no one else ever has to. I am hoping that, in light of my story, people will be more inclined to adhere to rules and be more courteous to others.

Dean Lundburg: Drills, communication top priorities for campus safety

Recent events such as the threat of an active shooter on campus last fall and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have inspired changes to handle emergencies at the SCCC Ammerman campus.

I sat down with Executive Dean Wesley Lundburg to find out more.

Lundburg, a former Coast Guardsman, said he is taking what he learned during his service to help this campus. He said a big focus would be drilling.

“When you have drilling, you have muscle memory. You can’t have people rely on a placard on the side of the doorway, that they go to and say, ‘Oh, what am I supposed to do?’” Lundburg said. “You need to get them to a place where they just automatically know what to do.”

Talks of change have been happening since an Oct. 30 incident in which an active shooter was thought to be on campus. It was quickly found that the student was carrying two toys guns as part of a Halloween costume. But the recent Parkland shooting has lit the fire.

The administration has brought Associative Dean Dave Bergan from the Eastern campus on board to help with the plans for change.

On March 13, a Professional Development Day was scheduled, during which faculty staff would receive emergency preparedness training. That was canceled due to inclement weather and has been rescheduled for April 6.

Lundburg said the Oct. 30 incident was a huge learning experience for the campus. The college was able to pinpoint exactly what needs to be improved. The biggest component is communication, he said.

As for current campus-wide communication, a PA system is in place throughout the hallways of the buildings on campus. NY Alert, a statewide emergency alert and notification system that the college uses to alert students in the event of an emergency, is a big part of that. There is an effort to switch over to Shark Alerts, a similar program that’s focused on SCCC.

The current PA system used on Oct. 30 sends out alerts in two parts. A lack of communication caused only half of the system to send out an alert to the campus of the threat. The system operator who was told to send out the alert sent it to the first half of the system and then was told not to send the alert because police were already on the way.

Because of the lack of proper communication, only half the campus was alerted that there was an emergency.

Currently, public safety is pricing out options for a PA system that will be outdoors. Speakers outside will be able to reach more people in the event of an emergency.  Lundburg is not sure how much that would cost.

The change will not be happening overnight, but the ball is rolling for an improvement of safety at the Ammerman campus.

“There hasn’t been resistance… it’s just there are a lot of priorities and things get kind of shoved aside,” Lundburg said.