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Friday, 6 February 2015
Grant From N.J. Department of Health Enables Trenton Health Team to Engage Faith-Based Organizations in Improving Health

Grant From N.J. Department of Health Enables Trenton  Health Team to Engage Faith-Based Organizations in Improving Health




A grant of $300,000 from the N.J. Department of Health has been awarded to the Trenton Health Team to implement a program called "Faith in Prevention." In a city where 39 percent of the residents are deemed obese and 16 percent suffer from diabetes, the focus will be on getting and staying healthy by creating a partnership between the city's healthcare collaborative and the faith community.
"Through this program, we will be encouraging community residents to take ownership of their health and well-being," said Dr. Ruth Perry, THT executive director. Dr. Perry has provided leadership in the development of a comprehensive community health needs assessment for the city
of Trenton, in which faith-based organizations played a key role.
"Faith-based organizations already take care of the sick," said Gregory Williams, director of community engagement. His responsibilities include implementation of THT's Community Health Improvement Plan, which was developed last year as a blueprint for achieving THT's goal of making Trenton the healthiest city in the state. "Faith-based organizations, many of which consider the body the temple of the soul,
have a tradition of healing.  As we implement our CHIP, the faith community will be serving a vital role."
The Faith in Prevention grant from the N.J. Department of Health will fund the "Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More" curriculum, designed to promote healthy eating and physical activity. This project will also address CHIP priorities, especially health literacy, obesity and healthy lifestyles, and chronic disease.
Easing the transition from hospital to home will be another area of focus,
with faith-based groups working closely with patients being discharged from area hospitals. By helping patients return home, making sure they eat well, take their medicines and follow their clinician's orders, the church and CDC leaders will help patients recover and at the same time reduce hospital readmissions, reducing overall costs to the healthcare system.
Williams said THT will select 10 faith-based organizations to implement the education and prevention program funded by the state. Groups chosen for the program will start with a self-assessment to determine the
needs and interests of their congregation and community. Grant funds will also underwrite programs encouraging people to eat healthy foods and increase physical activity.
In implementing the grants, Dr. Perry said THT will work with its vibrant Community Advisory Board, composed of nearly 50 Trenton area organizations that share the common goal of improving Trenton residents' health.

"These faith-based programs will help us expand on our community connections, building awareness and participation in nutrition and active lifestyle programs that will be delivered through the infrastructure of a trusted and readily available resource: the community's churches and faith-based organizations," she said.
"Through this grant we will also work with faith-based partners to support a smooth transition for community members who have been hospitalized, helping to ensure that follow-up resources are available to reduce avoidable re-admissions wherever possible."

About the Trenton Health Team
Trenton Health Team (THT) is an alliance of the city's major providers of healthcare services including Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center and the city's Health Department. In collaboration with residents and the city's active social services network, THT is developing an integrated healthcare delivery system to transform the city's fragmented primary care system and restore health to the city.  The THT receives generous support from The Nicholson Foundation, corporate partners and other foundations.

For more information, visit www.trentonhealthteam.org

Posted by tammyduffy at 2:46 PM EST

 A new era begins in New Hope & Lambertville on Friday, February 6, 2015! The two vibrant river towns are kicking off the beginning of a new ongoing series of First Friday events that combines galleries and artist’s studios on both sides of the Delaware River- First Friday by The Greater Lambertville – New Hope Chamber of Commerce.

From 5pm to 9pm, over a dozen galleries from both Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA will be participating in what the organizers hope will become one of of the most robust cultural events in the country. You can also expect live music and special offers at area bars and restaurants.

Beyond just a gallery crawl, plans for the series include partnerships and guest speakers from leading museums and cultural institutions from NYC to Philadelphia, artist demos and curator talks, a large works show, an outdoor sculpture show and a performance art series.

- See more at: http://hunterdon.happeningmag.com/first-friday-lambertville/#sthash.2x0F4JP4.dpuf





Posted by tammyduffy at 12:10 PM EST
Thursday, 5 February 2015
Paws or Pedi’s: The Advantage of a Medical Grade Pedicure

Paws or Pedi’s:  The Advantage of a Medical Grade Pedicure


By Tammy Duffy



Our first mode of transportation as infants, is our feet. Our feet allow us to do so much.  As we grow we stand on our feet, we dance, we run. sometimes in heels, all day. We even use them to hold open subway doors and a multitude of other tasks. We need to keep them as healthy as possible with regular care and early treatment for any problems.

As a marathoner and triathlete, my feet are an important asset.  They are prone to stress fractures, sprains and strains. Calluses are part of my protective barrier to get across the finish line without a blister.Taking care of them is an important aspect of my training.

After a long marathon, nothing feels better than a spa pedicure at the local salon. For years I have gotten these pedicures. They used blades, utensils, the normal tools of the trade on my feet. I have watch friends get horrible infections from manicures and pedicures. I consider myself one of the lucky ones that I never had such an issue. However, once you read this article you will learn what is really happening in the industry. You will also learn the precautions you need to take to safeguard your feet. A medical grade pedicure is your answer.  I will never go to another salon for my pedicure, only to a podiatrist.


Beauty Schools across the Country have suddenly seen a drastic 2 year drop in the enrollment of nail technology courses for nail technician’s as a separate training discipline yet, cosmetology course enrollments have held steady. (Remember, nail technicians only do nails while cosmetologists do hair and nails.) The prices for nail technician provided services have also dropped for services providing manicures and pedicures nationwide in many markets. However, the number of nail salons have expanded exponentially throughout the USA. So, my readers, what do you think is happening?


If there is a significant decrease in enrollment how are there so many “nail technicians” out there?  Here is what is happening…..one or two people will actually attend beauty school in a nail salon and teach the others in their salon. The certificates on the wall are fake in many instances. A quick search on line will show that their registration number does not exist or belongs to someone else.  Therefore, they are not licensed, just been trained on the job.  This is the unfortunate truth.


There are more than 70,510 beauticians, barbers, cosmetologist hairstylists, skin care specialists and manicurists licensed in the State of New Jersey. There are more than 9,237 shops, 702 cosmetology- hairstyling teachers and 28 schools are also licensed by the Board. However, there are only 11 inspectors in the State of New Jersey.


In NY State, there are just 24 inspectors assigned to probe all beauty, but with more than 10,000 shops in the city alone, there are dirty, dangerous and potentially deadly practices going unpunished.



Fungal and bacterial infections, hepatitis and HIV can be spread if salons don’t follow safe procedures. In the U.S., some women have died after being exposed to unsanitary conditions at their salons.


I have sat in the waiting area of salons and watched what was happening in my home town. I have had manicures and pedicures for years at these salons. I found, over and over, dirty tools and unsafe, even illegal, practices, happening in the salons. I have gotten pedicures at the area salons and been victim of these unsafe procedures myself.


In New York and New Jersey, all files and wooden cuticle sticks must be new for each customer. But, this is not what is happening in the salons. What is evident is manicurists grabbing used tools over and over again for different customers.


The same goes for waxing: aestheticians should use a different stick for every wax application, but that often was not the case.


Clippers and any stainless steel tool must be soaked in barbicide — that clear blue liquid that kills bacteria on shared instruments — or other approved disinfectant, again, many salons do not even have barbicide at the salon.


The Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling was created to protect New Jersey consumers who avail themselves of the services regulated by the Board and to promulgate and enforce regulations relating to the practice of cosmetology and hairstyling, barbering and beauty culture. The Board consists of 11 individuals who must be residents of New Jersey. The members of the Board are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Six of the 11 members must hold practicing licenses issued by the Board and must have been engaged in the practice of beauty culture, barbering, or cosmetology and hairstyling for at least five years prior to their appointment. One of the 11 members must hold a teacher’s license issued by the Board of Beauty Culture Control or by the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling. They cannot get every where. Many salons have never been inspected.


Many women will go to the nail salon to be pampered and may get something they don't expect. They could get an infection, MRSA, HIV, Genital Herpes, fungi, bacteria, skin ulcers, etc. Many of these ailments require surgery, grafts or laser surgery to correct.


A Fancy Nails in Watsonville was shut down after investigators found high levels of tuberculosis-related bacteria in all of the salon's footbaths. The owner of Fancy Nails admitted to state investigators that he never cleaned the suction screens in the footbaths where debris from hair, skin and nails accumulate — that is where the bacteria is believed to have built up.  When you walk into a salon, ask them when they last cleaned the screens. Ask them to show you the screen. If they refuse, walk out.

The majority of the salons simply had poor sanitation practices. Nail buffers and emery boards, which are supposed to be thrown away after one use, were being used on customer after customer.


Part of the problem may be that almost half of all nail technicians nationwide are immigrants for whom English is a second language. They may not be able to read the labels on the disinfectant itself because the labels usually are written in English.


The competition is very intense to cut prices amongst the salons. The technicians are paid less, so perhaps they're not as skilled. Salons cut back on the quality of you disinfectants, or maybe you don't even use real disinfectants. Ask to see the MSDS sheets for the products they use to disinfect. You will be surprised at the results. I can guarantee you will walk out after this little analysis. 


Many inspectors found many discount salons using heavily diluted disinfectants — in some cases, not sterilizing instruments at all. Tests on one set of clippers found bacteria from human feces.


Many salons were caught using razor-sharp credo blades to scrap calluses from customers' feet. Credo blades are illegal in salons (NJ and NY are one of the 45 states where they are illegal) because they are likely to cause bleeding and exposure to harmful bacteria. I personally have had Credo blades used on my heels of steel at the salon near the Acme on RT 33 in Hamilton,  NJ numerous of times.


The manicure and pedicure industry is a six billion dollar industry. Fungal infections are on the rise in the salons due to the massive pressure to succeed and get as many customer through the salon each day. Be careful. The salons are dirty. They are transferors of  hepatitis, HIV, Fungus and bacteria, etc.   Many salons have never seen an inspector. Ask the salon when the last time they were inspected. If they look at you sideways or say,”Never.”,  take that response as your signal to walk out.


Files and wooden cuticle sticks must be new for each customer. However, upon visiting salons, this is not the case.  Hospital grade disinfectants like Barbicide have to be used, however many use Windex vs Barbidcide or some other “mystery cleaner.” Dubious UV light “disinfectant machines” are used. However, they are not approved for disinfecting devices.


Have you ever gotten waxed? Watch how the do it? Do they change the wax stick each time they are applying wax to you? I have had my eyebrows done in the past and they did not change the wand. They use the same stick for you for your entire treatment.  No double dipping!! I have seen behavior utilized in high end spas being done. One can contract genital herpes for this technique. Hepatitis B can also be easily contracted this way as well.


Foot spas or pedicure baths should be washed and disinfected after each use in accordance with the disinfection requirements for that state. Did you know that the row of chairs are actually recirculating the water all day between each chair?  So, if the filters are not cleaned rigorously or professionally cleaned, whatever your chair mate had ailing them, now becomes your ailment. When you enter a salon ask them when the last time they had the filters professionally cleaned. If they cannot answer or hesitate, walk out of the salon. In the event the footbaths are not clean, the  chance you will get an ailment is 100%. Even if the tools are clean that they use, if the footbaths are filthy, your days are numbered in regards to foot health. Serena Williams in 2011 fell victim to a filthy footbath, impacting her athletic ability that year.


The concern should not end there. We all have aging family members. Be aware as they enter nursing homes and long term care facilities. Some nurses and podiatrists or podiatric assistants are going bed to bed cutting nails in nursing home with one pair of nippers and wiping them off with alcohol wipes. This pattern of disinfection fails miserably, in fact it is worse than what nail salons are doing nationwide because  they are “licensed” to know better. Podiatry assistant’s programs are voluntary and depend entirely upon how a podiatrist wants to use them.  They are not state licensed individuals who have completed state prescribed testing.


So how do we avoid all of this bacteria ?


Get a medical grade pedicure, end of story. The likelihood that states will change their behaviors with inspections is  unlikely so you must protect yourself. There are different ways that medical pedicures are offered.  They can be done in a podiatric doctor’s office. A doctor’s office that has a very expensive autoclaver on site to sterilize the tools that are used for your pedicure and manicure. Some podiatric practices only have the physicians do the pedicures (this is my favorite as an athlete). Some practices have state registered nail technicians do the pedicures within their podiatric practice or  some have an advanced trained nail technician do the pedicure in their practice.


There is an argument that these advanced trained individuals are going to be taking over our industry, this is inaccurate. State laws prevent them from acting in an advanced capacity unless they are under a physician’s license.  Let’s face it, those podiatrists who hire people to do routine care, can hire someone one day and they are cutting nails for them the next day. This is unacceptable unless they come to the table with advanced skills. Make sure you ask the question when you make your appointment, who is doing the pedicure? What are their credentials? Just because it is advertised as a medical grade pedicure, does not mean it really is done by a professional.


Do nail technicians already do advanced care illegally with or without the benefit of training? Yes, every day. Not a single state cosmetology board has enough inspectors to stop it now or in the future. Make sure you ask the right questions when you make your appointment and keep asking them when you get to your appointment.


There are podiatrists across the country who have already recognized basic nail technicians are the only licensed individuals to provide beauty services to hands and feet in every state. One of the first podiatrists to do this was Oscar Mix. He incorporated nail technicians directly into his practice over 20 years ago. They just need extra advanced training to perfect their current skills and be real assets to a practice. Interestingly, there are also podiatrists who have surgical practices or specialty practices referring patients to nail salons without medical oversight instead of our brother podiatrists to handle routine foot care. Yes, this also happens all the time.


A medical-grade pedicure is the perfect way to relax and treat your feet to much-needed care and attention. It complements medical treatments of foot ailments by preventing foot disorders and can be a helpful support in healing. It’s the ultimate in luxurious foot care.


While a traditional cosmetic pedicure focuses on making your toenails look as good as possible, and gets rid of some dead skin, it ignores real problems and sometimes creates them. Not to mention, your feet are on display in front of all the other customers.


Unlike nail salons, podiatric professionals are trained to examine and treat foot and nail disorders using advanced equipment and tools…and the strictest hygiene protocols. A medical pedicure is an esthetic and therapeutic foot care treatment performed in the private setting of a medical clinic.


A medical pedicure is a non-invasive, wet or dry procedure performed by highly skilled foot care specialists or the surgeon him or herself. This is combined podiatry with nail care. Guaranteed to be safe and hygienic, it addresses issues such as: Athlete’s foot, corns, Calluses ,dry cracked heels, Fungus, Ingrown/overgrown toenails, nail discoloration. Even if you have zero ailments you can still go for a medical grade pedicure. This ensures that you will not put yourself at risk, the risks earlier explained in this article from a regular nail salon.


You will not be picking out your color at most of these medical grade pedicure sites. Your bare, buffed toenails look gorgeous on their own, so they actually don’t stock nail polish.


If after reading this article you are still compelled to go to a nail salon for your pedi treats, please follow the follow advice….


  • Always get a new pair of shoes; and toe separators. These are commonly reused in salons. If salons have a bucket that says, Place toe separators and shoes here”, the likelihood they are reusing these items is quite high.


  • Never let your waxer double dip a wax applicator stick; watch them like a hawk!
  • Always make sure your waxer and pedicure attendant wears gloves; you have no idea what they just touched.
  • Be sure all tools are soaked in barbicide before they’re used on you; if not, walk out of the salon
  • Bring your own buffer or pumice stone, files and pushers or ask for a new one for your service. If they refuse to use yours, walk out.
  • Seeing a “sealed package” with tools in it does not guarantee that the place is using a $5,000 autoclaver to clean their utensils. Make them show you the autoclaver!
  • Bring your own pumice stone and scraper, nail clipper, cuticle clipper, etc


Even doing the above will not ensure “happy feet”. The minute you place your feet in a bacteria riddled footbath, it’s game over.


So, lets emphasize the importance of a medical grade pedicure one more time by sharing another example from the CDC.


In 2000, an outbreak of Mycobacterium fortuitum furunculosis affected customers using whirlpool footbaths at a nail salon. They swabbed 30 footbaths in 18 nail salons from 5 California counties and found mycobacteria in 29 (97%); M. fortuitum was the most common. Mycobacteria may pose an infectious risk for pedicure customers.


Before this outbreak, M. fortuitum and other rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) caused localized cutaneous infections but usually in a healthcare-associated setting with surgical or clinical devices contaminated with water from the hospital or from the municipal water system. In the nail salon outbreak, they suspected that the mycobacteria entered the footspas through the municipal tap water and thrived in the large amount of organic debris accumulated behind the footspa recirculation screens. However, cultures of tap water at that nail salon later in the investigation yielded RGM in the M. chelonae-abscesses group but not M. fortuitum.


Since RGM are commonly found in municipal water systems, and since the nail care business is a $6 billion and growing industry in this country, the CDC hypothesized that similar whirlpool footbath–associated RGM infections occurred sporadically but went unnoticed.


Five large counties from different parts of California (Alameda, Sacramento, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego) participated in the survey. Counties chosen served large populations and had multiple nail salons with whirlpool footbaths. In each county, a team including the regional investigator of the California Bureau of Barbering and Cosmetology and a local public health professional visited selected nail salons. They assessed footspa equipment, cleaning solutions, and cleaning techniques and frequencies. Swab samples were also collected.


In each participating county, a convenience sample of >3 different nail salons equipped with whirlpool footbaths located in the town’s main business section was randomly selected for the survey. Salon managers were questioned about cleaning and disinfection regimens of their footspas. Pedicure equipment time in service within the salon and make and model numbers of whirlpool pedicure equipment were noted. For each salon, 2 separate footspas were sampled, unless that salon only had 1 footspa, in which case only 1 swab was collected. Using a screwdriver, investigators removed the grate or filter screen covering the recirculation port in each footspa basin and inspected the area behind the screen for debris. A sterile, cotton-tipped culturette was used to swab this area and placed in standard transport medium.


Isolated from the whirlpool footbaths were 10 species of mycobacteria, 6 of which were RGM: M. fortuitum, M. mucogenicum, M. smegmatis group, M. mageritense, M. neoaurum-like RGM, and a pigmented unidentified nontuberculous mycobacteria.  M. fortuitum was the most frequently isolated mycobacterium, found in 14 (47%) of the 30 footspas surveyed and from all 5 counties. Rapid growers, including M. fortuitum,were found in 23 (76%) of the footspas. Slow-growing mycobacteria species were also recovered, including M. avium complex, M. gordonae, M. simiae, and M. lentiflavum. These species were less frequent than the rapid growers, except for M. avium complex, which was found in 5 (17%) of the footspas.


The whirlpool footbaths sampled came from 3 manufacturers. Disinfectants reportedly used included a variety of brand name products and chlorine bleach, used at intervals of 1 to 14 days. Five (17%) footspas reportedly did not go through any disinfectant process. Twenty-five (83%) of the surveyed footbaths had collected visible debris or slime behind the recirculation screen cover, either on the screen itself, on the tub surface, or both. Fifteen (50%) of footspa operators reported never having cleaned behind this screen. One footspa had no screen or visible debris; nevertheless, it tested positive for mycobacteria.


Take good care of you feet, you one get one set.  After much investigation of the podiatric offices in NJ doing medical pedicures, I highly recommend going to the Caring Podiatry practice in Monroe, N. J. 


The physicians are the ones doing the pedicures at Caring Podiatry.  They actually have a coupon available right now for their service through Living Social. 

https://www.livingsocial.com/cities/517-mercer-middlesex-counties/deals/1369140-medical-grade-pedicure-or-laser-toenail-treatment .  I just bought one for myself and my mother. Their hours are quite flexible and convenient.













Posted by tammyduffy at 1:35 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 5 February 2015 1:52 PM EST
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Matchstick Dwellings: How to Stay Safe

Matchstick Dwellings: How to Stay Safe


By Tammy Duffy




As the building industry evolves, it's constantly developing ways to create building materials and methods that can allow construction to be done in the most efficient way possible. Building professionals and engineers are working to decrease the time involved in not only the production but the installation, as well. There are towns that brag about their economic development, but in actuality they are developing matchstick hotels and fast burning dwellings. The focus on resident safety is not existent. It’s money over life.


Cost is clearly the driving force in these decisions.  A physical example of this evolution has been the introduction of lightweight construction. It's brought serious ramifications to the fire service and how work is done on the fire ground.


A few weeks ago we all witnessed in the news the fire that occurred at the Edgewater dwelling in Bergen County, N.J.  The Avalon at Edgewater complex -- built on the site where the Avalon River Mews was consumed by an inferno as construction neared completion in 2000 -- resembled a battlefield: shattered walls, scorched timbers, a haze of thick, choking smoke.


Edgewater Police Chief William Skidmore said Avalon maintenance workers were using a blowtorch to perform plumbing repairs in a first-floor apartment at about 4 p.m. when the fire began inside a wall. Instead of immediately calling 911, the workers first phoned their supervisor, leading to a 15-minute delay in the emergency response, Skidmore said.  That decision, the chief said, “certainly didn’t help” in stopping the fire’s spread.  “It was mostly a big contributor because it was a delay in the response of the fire department," he said.


The fire raged for nearly seven hours, destroying 240 of the complex’s 408 units. Two firefighters and two civilians suffered minor injuries. More than 500 people lost their homes, and about 520 others from neighboring buildings and houses were displaced temporarily. Christie, at the afternoon press conference, pledged his administration’s assistance. What will his assistance be, get the people back on their feet? That is not enough. There has to be changes made to the building codes in NJ to safeguard the residents of the state.







“If it was made out of concrete and cinder block, we wouldn’t have this sort of problem,” Edgewater Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson said. “It’s very difficult because once it’s in the walls and floors, we’re chasing it.”


This was not the first time a fire raged through the Edgewater complex. A fire in 2000 also involved wood-frame construction. That blaze destroyed four buildings. The fire alarm and sprinkler systems worked properly during that large fire at Avalon, and the two-building complex, owned by AvalonBay Communities, met all state and local fire codes.


State and federal standards require many public buildings, including schools and town halls, to incorporate studs made out of metal so that if a fire breaks out, the studs will be among the last things to fall, said Judson Moore, president of the New Jersey State Fire Chiefs Association and a firefighter in Cumberland County. Why is this same requirement not made in residential dwellings and hotels being built?


The real point of this article to create awareness; if you have not altered your approach and attack on these types of fires, you need to adjust immediately. A recent walk around a construction site in Hamilton , NJ (Mercer County) demonstrated a new matchstick hotel going up.  (see attached photos). There are no metal studs demonstrated in the new structure that is going up.  There are a few metal studs evident in the structure that was built first on the property, but that strategy has changed and its all wood. A conversation with local firefighters revealed that although these buildings meet code, but they are a large challenge for fire fighters. Those who chose to stay at these hotels will have no idea of the risks associated with the dwelling upon entering it.


When structures are made wholly of wood, collapses are often inevitable. Firefighters can’t fight that from the interior.   They have to back out and fight it in a defensive mode, where they’re not going inside unless absolutely necessary to save lives. Those in the dwelling are on their own to get out.


As demonstrated in the fire in Bergen county recently, firefighters continued to douse hot spots in the wreckage.  Due to the complex’s lightweight wood-frame construction, the fire spread so rapidly.  The firefighters were all but helpless to contain it.


Although these lightweight construction  materials reduce construction costs and have consistently demonstrated equivalent or even superior quality under non-fire conditions, the same cannot be said when these materials are exposed to fire loading during a residential structure fire. The result is progressive structural collapse due to the failure of these lightweight structures, resulting in firefighter injuries and death.


Over 1,700 firefighters have died since the year 2000 due to getting trapped in buildings due to collapse. (Source: FEMA) These firefighters were killed after becoming lost, caught or trapped in structures. Numbers like these should motivate us to ask why our current fire attack tactics aren’t sufficient to allow us to fight structure fires in a way that gets the job done, protects occupants and prevents us from getting killed in the process. Why are town leaderships allowing this type of construction?


Over the past few years, you may have noticed an increase in reports of firefighter close calls and fatalities related to lightweight construction, which has hopefully created better awareness of the issue within the fire service. It has forced departments to evolve further to differentiate between conventional framing and those using lightweight pre-engineered materials. There is extensive training programs that have been developed by  UL and other agencies to assist the firefighters in their efforts.


The introduction of lightweight construction materials should have changed the way people operate on the fire ground. A series of tests done by the UL offered some glaring results. The failure time of a non protected 2x10 framing member was 18 minutes and 30 seconds after ignition time, and the equivalent member in a "TJI" failed in 6 minutes and 30 seconds.


There’s a contention today that building construction is getting more complex and creating more hazards for firefighters. This is true. But the real reason firefighters get killed in structures is that they’re operating with a set of assumptions about structural integrity that may or may not be true—even from one month to the next. This begs the question, “How much do you know about modern building construction?” How much do the Mayors and planning boards in towns really understand the fire hazards associated with these lightweight construction buildings? Are they only focused on allowing companies to come in and build and have lost sight on the safety of the people who will live and stay in the buildings?




How can you protect yourself and your fellow firefighters? Firefighters need to develop a culture of continual and evolving size-up. We have heard it a million times; "Size-up starts when the tones go out." But for me, size-up starts when you wake up in the morning. Size-up will also need to evolve over time to allow for changes in the fire industry, the construction industry, and changes in your own response area. We all need to take ownership of this.


Size-up for today is only as good as today. We need to educate our firefighters to be able to rapidly identify various types of construction, and the methods and materials utilized. Consider developing a system to notify responding firefighters of potential construction hazards. The towns that are allowing this lightweight construction to take place as part of their economic development should be forced by the state government to have mandatory training for their firefighters and residents.


Certain communities have already developed a hazmat-like placard system that allows responding firefighters to determine the type of construction upon arrival. The signage design and location would be in a predetermined location enforced by the local building and code officials. Children should be educated on this in the school systems as part of their annual fire safety curricula. 


As mentioned, one aspect of building construction that firefighters must know about is lightweight wood construction. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recognized that there needed to be more accurate and relevant information regarding lightweight construction so firefighters could achieve a safer operational environment. As such, the USFA partnered with the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) to develop a comprehensive Web-based educational program about lightweight construction components—information that has not been provided in an easily accessible format in the past. Included in this program is FireFrame, an interactive tool on building construction that was developed with the assistance of several state and local fire training systems.


Structural collapse is always a very serious threat, but we put ourselves in even more danger if we aren’t aware of the risks associated with the building materials involved. The USFA, AF&PA and IFSI have taken one important step in providing the fire service useful information about lightweight construction. Of course, in addition to lightweight wood construction we must also be aware of the issues associated with the “green” building movement, re-development that’s increasing densities, land-use policies that mix residential and commercial occupancies, change in the density and flammability of building contents, and more. Lightweight construction is a good place to start, but as I said before, we must know as much as possible about all types of buildings we enter to be as safe as possible.


Firefighting operations related to modern lightweight construction: lightweight steel, parallel chord MGP trusses, metal gusset plate wood trusses and lightweight structural steel, proper nozzle selection and working from protected positions.



As the building industry evolves, it's constantly developing ways to create building materials and methods that can allow construction to be done in the most efficient way possible. Building professionals and engineers are working to decrease the time involved in not only the production but the installation, too.


Cost is clearly the driving force in these decisions — and a physical example of this evolution has been the introduction of lightweight construction. It's brought serious ramifications to the fire service and how we work on the fire ground.


This article highlights some of the dangers of lightweight construction and offer some size-up recommendations. Over the past few years, you may have noticed an increase in reports of firefighter close calls and fatalities related to lightweight construction, which has hopefully created better awareness of the issue within the fire service. It has forced departments to evolve further to differentiate between conventional framing and those using lightweight pre-engineered materials.


The introduction of lightweight construction materials should have changed the way you operate on the fireground. A series of tests done by the UL offered some glaring results. The failure time of a non protected 2x10 framing member was 18 minutes and 30 seconds after ignition time, and the equivalent member in a "TJI" failed in 6 minutes and 30 seconds.


Firefighters should be trained in not only the construction types and methods, but also to understand the differences in fire behavior as a result of different construction methods. Building construction will determine the number of firefighters, apparatus and equipment needed to control fire, proper location of attack and vent, and whether the attack should be an offensive or defensive one.


Government and fire leadership must clearly understand fire progression and constantly assess the time the fire has been involved. There may be certain fires that may be an exterior attack on arrival just as a result of the amount of time the run was dispatched and the amount of time it took to respond.


The fire from the exterior may be visually "attackable," but the floor structure may not allow for an interior attack. Six minutes is a very small window to operate under. Use a defensive strategy whenever trusses have been compromised or exposed to fire, and remember basic risk reward concepts.


One major element of structural firefighting that’s changed in recent years: building construction. By now you’ve heard about how lightweight construction changes the way fires burn. But in many cases, we’re still approaching fires the same way we did 30 years ago.


Lightweight, wood-frame buildings burn extremely fast and hot. If the fire breaks out of the container (or room of origin), then it’s “off to the races.” As fire exits a container and vents to the outside of the structure, it will spread upward very rapidly, involving everything combustible in its path. Fire venting from a window or door will quickly burn into combustible truss voids. Once fire has entered the void, the roof decking will burn through and the truss may collapse in less than 5 minutes. The fire will also enter the overhead and/or floor void from within the container. A post-flashover fire will not be contained, and the fire and super-heated fire gases will penetrate through numerous pathways into combustible void spaces.


Fire in lightweight steel (non-combustible) buildings also spreads quickly. The rapidly growing contents fire will quickly heat the lightweight steel trusses and structural members, causing rapid collapse. These lightweight structural systems are often not protected by any fire-rated membrane or sprinkler system. (Note: The best time to discover this situation is while conducting inspections and preplanning.)


So why is fire behavior in lightweight structures so unique and deadly? Since the late 50s and early 60s, structures built of wood and steel, or any combination of the two, have utilized lightweight building design and lightweight structural building components, such as gusset plate trusses, plywood, wood I-beams, OSB sheeting and other engineered systems. Gone are the days of solid-sawn dimensional lumber joists and decking.


In addition, as structures get lighter in structural weight, they’re loaded with contents and furnishings that burn hotter and more quickly than ever before—a deadly combination for building occupants and firefighters.


What does this mean for us? We have NO time! Once the fire has flashed in the container, the container can no longer hold, absorb or contain the heat. As fire enters combustible lightweight voids, collapse is imminent.


Fire tactics taught more than 30 years ago were developed by firefighters who fought fires in conventionally built structures. Clearly, these tactics will not work in lightweight structures and, as such, we must modify our tactics.

Modifying tactics means operating from protected positions until we can control the fire and verify that fire is not in the combustible voids above and below us. We should not enter a structure without clearing the overhead void and the floor void.


Light-weight engineered floor systems provide architectural, economic and productivity benefits to the homeowner and the construction industry with assumed status quo in fire safety. However, under fire conditions, these light-weight engineered floor systems lead to greater risk of structural failure in a shorter time as a consequence of the reduced cross-sectional dimensions of the engineered products as compared to traditional dimensional lumber floor systems. So, despite the superior structural performance of these new products to traditional lumber construction under ‘normal’ conditions, the trend reverses in a fire environment. This is highlighted by the increasing number of firefighter fatalities due to collapse of these engineered systems under fire conditions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a report, Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters Due to Truss System Failures, highlighting the risks of injury and death that can occur during fire-fighting operations involving engineered floor truss systems.


The construction industry is continually introducing new engineered products that provide better structural stability, allow for faster construction time and are more cost effective. Additionally, the market for green or environmentally sustainable building materials experienced a growth rate  of 23% through 2006 and is expected to continue growing at a rate of 17% through 2011 according to Green Building Materials in the U.S. The increased market demand for environmentally sustainable products is driving engineered lumber products to further reduce material mass that could potentially result in even further concern for fire safety in building construction today.


There are also some amazing new products, if used in conjunction with these lightweight construction materials can make a huge difference in the event there is a fire. Watch this attached video below to see an example of this with the use of fireproof intumescent paints.






As residents and travelers we often we check into a hotel at the end of a long day traveling or playing at the beach or amusement park and don’t even bother to learn how to exit the room safely in the case of a fire.  It is so important to be prepared in case a fire does break out. Surviving a hotel fire begins right after you check in. When you get to your room take a few moments to check out possible escape routes. A vast majority of new hotels are built using lightweight construction techniques.


When planning your fire escape plan remember:


Walk down the corridor and find the fire exits.

Never use the elevator in a fire - the call buttons may take you to a floor filled with smoke or flames.

Check the exits out to make sure they are usable! Do the doors open? Are the stairways clear?

Count the doorways and any other features between your room and the exits. If the corridor is dark and full of smoke, you'll need to know your way as you crawl along the wall to the exit.

If the hotel has a fire alarm system, find the nearest fire alarm. Be sure you know how to use it. You may have to activate it in the dark or dense smoke.

Check your room. It's important to know the layout of your room because you may have to stay in it if smoke in the corridor cuts off your escape. Many people have lived through a hotel fire by remaining in their rooms protected against smoke and gases while awaiting rescue.

Begin by putting your room key close to where you sleep so you can find it easily. You will need it to get back into your room if smoke or fire blocks your exit. You may want to keep it in your pants pocket or on the night stand.

Try the windows. Do they open? How do the latches work? Which one would you use in an emergency?

Look out the window to see what's outside. Is escape possible? You may be only a few feet from the ground and you can get out this way if the hall is not usable. If you are on an upper floor, there may be a roof or deck within safe dropping distance. Dropping from more than two floors usually results in injury.


If a fire does break out in the hotel, here are some things you should do:


1. Open a window to vent the room if there is any smoke.  If you are on the first or second floor you may be able to drop to the ground safely. If you are up any higher, you are usually better off staying put. Although some people survive jumps form 35 feet or more, they are usually seriously injured.

2. Let someone know you are in room. If the phone works, call for help. Hang a bed sheet out the window to signal firefighters, but don't try to climb down.

3. Fill the tub with water.  It might be needed for fire fighting. Turn on the bathroom fan if it helps to clear your room of smoke.

4. Wet towels and sheets. You'll need them to put around doors and cracks if smoke seeps in. Use your ice bucket to bail water.

5. Get fresh air. Make a tent over your head with a blanket at a slightly opened window to get fresh air. If the window does not open, you may have to break one out with a chair or drawer. If heat and flames are rising outside the window form a lower floor, don't breathe smoke-laden air.

6. As a last resort. Finally, if your room becomes untenable, you may be forced to make for the best exit. But remember to keep low.


Remember that few people are burned to death in fires. Most people die from smoke, poisonous gases and panic. Panic is usually the result of not knowing what to do. If you have an escape plan and adapt it to the emergency, you can greatly increase your chances of survival.


It's a good idea to always pack a flashlight in your suitcase. You may need it to guide yourself through smoke or darkness.












 photos by DUFFY: Construction site on Rt. 130 Hamilton , NJ Mercer County

Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2016 9:56 PM EDT
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Cuban Scorpions Making a Global Cure

Cuban Scorpions Helping Cancer Patients


By Tammy Duffy 




In 1985, Cuban pharmaceutical companies launched a vaccine for Meningitis B. It was not until 2014 that Pfizer and Novartis in the USA, launched their first vaccine for Meningitis B.


The pharmaceutical talents of the Cuban scientists do not end there. The fact that Cuba has already developed four cancer vaccines undoubtedly is big news for humanity if you bear in mind that according to the World Health Organization nearly 8 million people die from that disease every year. However, this wonderful news has been completely ignored in the main stream media.


In 2012, Cuba patented the first therapeutic vaccine in the world against advanced lung cancer, called CIMAVAX-EGF. In January 2013, the island announced the second cancer vaccine, known as Racotumomab.


Racotumomab (trade name Vaxira) is a therapeutic cancer vaccine for the treatment of solid tumors that is currently under clinical development by Recombio, an international public-private consortium with the participation of the Center of Molecular Immunology at Havana Cuba (CIM) and researchers from Buenos Aires University and National University of Quilmes in Argentina. It induces the patient's immune system to generate a response against a cancer-specific molecular target with the purpose of blocking tumor growth, slowing disease progression and ultimately increasing patient survival. 


Clinical tests were carried out in 86 nations, revealed that though these vaccines do not cure the disease, they do reduce the tumors thus improving the quality and expectancy of life of the patients.



The Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM) is a Cuban biotechnological institution devoted to basic research, product development and production of mammalian cell culture products in compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) regulations. CIM has extensive experience in the field of monoclonal antibodies, extending back to 1980. CIM has more than 1,127 employees, mostly scientists and engineers.

CIM´s main research objective is the development of new products fo
r the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and other diseases related to the immune system.

Basic research projects are focused on cancer immunotherapy, especially the development of molecular vaccines. These include antibody engineering, cellular engineering, bio-informatics and regulation of the immune response.

CIM conducts clinical trials in diagnostic imaging and cancer therapy of varying origin, and other diseases of the immune system, in highly specialized hospitals.


The Havana-based Molecular Immunology Center is the creator of these vaccines. The center had already developed the Meningitis-B Vaccine in 1985, one of its kind in the world. Later there came other vaccines, such as the Hepatitis-B and the Dengue. Experts at the entity have been researching for years on a HIV-Aids vaccine as well.


The Cuban agenda against cancer is also joined by Labiofam pharmaceutical enterprise, which develops homeopathic medications against the disease, such as VIDATOX, made from the venom of blue scorpion, native of Cuba.




Scientists have found that the toxin in the venom of the Rophalorus junceus scorpion, endemic to Cuba, has an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effect.  

For more than 15 years the company has been doing research to discover the effectiveness of a treatment against tumors that uses scorpion venom.

Labiofam has been able to put on the market a million doses of Vidatox in its homeopathic version, to be taken in sublingual drops, and is preparing another formula of the medication in a natural form – without additives – that patients will take orally.

During clinical trials more than 10,000 cancer
patients took the treatment, including 3,500 foreigners, “with positive results,” above all in improving their quality of life and in stopping tumor growth, according to one of the developers, Dr Gonzalez.

The treatment has been administered to patients with cancer of the uterus, prostate, pancreas and lungs, among others. The toxin is extracted from the scorpion by means of electric stimulus and each of these creatures can provide 0.02 milliliters of venom, equivalent to two or three drops. At present there are 13 breeding facilities for scorpions in Cuba with an average of 5,000 of these arthropods each.


Vidatox is a drug produced from five protein peptides extracted from the venom of the blue scorpion (Rophalorus junceus), which is endemic to Cuba and which has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. The result of 15 years of research, by October last year Vidatox had been tested on more than 10,000 cancer patients, some 3,500 of them foreigners, with positive results both in improving quality of life and stopping tumor growth.


Vidatox is a homeopathic preparation made from five protein peptides of low molecular weight extracted from the venom of the scorpion, and which has demonstrated an "analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effect in more than 15 different cancer cell lines."


The medication was produced from over 5,000 scorpions of the Rhopalurus junceus variety, native to eastern Cuba. According to the company, it has no contraindications and is compatible with any other oncological treatment. 


The company presented the results of its Vidatox research in its first international congress in late September in Havana before some 500 delegates from all parts of the world.

 This link below will allow you to purchase it online.  (Cost $177.17 USD)

It only cost 4 cents for residents of Cuba







Scorpions are the oldest arthropod representatives and were the first ones to conquer the Earth.   Presently the number of known species is 1500. Of these, Cuba homes 32 species and subspecies, which is considered a large endemism, given that among such known forms, 29 are exclusive to our country.

Some recent investigations of research showed a much more extensive range of action in scorpion neurotoxins, not only because they are specific sodium and potassium markers, but because they show signs of activity by their selective bonding to chloride channels as expressed in malign cells, a very important basis for its use and assessment in cancer therapy.


Scorpion venom as antitumoral agent seems impossible. Though limited, products from animal sources are climbing to a significant rank among suggested research lines directives aimed to develop effective treatment for cancer. In several animal species materials with antitumoral activity have been extracted in a preliminary manner.


The use of scorpion for therapeutic purposes has been known in Cuba since the beginnings of last Century, when a so called “scorpion oil” was dispensed as useful in counteracting retention of urine, as showed in the Matanzas Pharmaceutical Museum. Additional information, give credit to scorpion alcohol extract analgesic properties in rheumatic and muscular pain.  It was not until early 1980’s that a research team from the School of Medical Sciences in Guantanamo started working with venom from the Rhopalurus junceus, scorpion, with the purpose of showing its anti-tumor effects, as it was being used by local population to treat tumors in lesser animals.


 In January 1994, it was reported that the realization of preliminary experimental studies on mice, dogs and humans, according to which, once scorpion toxin was administered, natural or transplanted tumors in dogs and albino mice either disappeared or reduced their size. 

Studies performed on humans, resulted in life-quality improvement, overriding adverse medical prognosis and complete response to the disease in a group of patients, indicating that scorpion R. junceus venom bears, among others, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates body immunity and acts over a wide variety of tumors; over 2,000 persons have experienced encouraging results when treated with scorpion R. junceus venom. 

How can Vidatox fight cancer cells?


A tumor needs nutrition to grow.


Above we see the cancer cells, which multiply rapidly and form a tumor that grows progressively into normal tissues. With the growth of the tumor there is an increase in pressure on surrounding nerves, causing from mild to unbearable pain. As in normal tissue, the tumor is nourished by blood vessels to grow. This process is called angiogenesis


 Vidatox is anti angiogenic.


Venom binds to tumor cells and blocks tumor angiogenesis that supplies the tumor with the needed nutrients.

Vidatox also stimulates and strengthens the immune system.



The figure above shows the healing effects that the immune system is capable of doing if properly stimulated. Studies show a significant stimulation of the immune system on experimental animals and in patients who have used the venom. There is a significant increase in white blood cells and other cells responsible for defending the immunity. In other words, the studies indicate that the venom contains substances that are effective in stimulating the immune system and other substances that act as anti-inflammatory and painkiller.

For more than 20 years, Cubans have been treating cancer patients with blue scorpion venom. Even when the results aren't jaw-dropping, thousands attest to pain relief, increased muscle strength, and renewed energy while on the medicine. 

The treatment is now poised for a global premiere. Cuba's state pharmaceutical company, Labiofam, recently began mass-producing a homeopathic version called Vidatox. A handful of countries have registered it for sale, and a small black market to move the product around the globe has emerged. It's impossible to know how many patients have imbibed the venom treatment from the small glass bottles over the past two decades, but the number is likely more than 55,000 globally.

Curing cancer has arguably become the medical world's greatest conundrum. According to the World Health Organization, the disease killed approximately 7.6 million people in 2008, 13 percent of all deaths worldwide. Despite the billions of dollars invested in research, our treatment fallbacks — chemotherapy and radiation — are woefully inadequate. Doctors are only 7.3 percent more successful at treating cancer than they were in 1950, and it's expected that by 2030, twice the number of people will die from the disease as do today, predicts the World Health Organization. These are not good statistics.

Perhaps the best-known case of blue scorpion success is that of Yarislenis Abreu, a shy 15-year-old who goes by "Yari" and lives in the third-floor apartment of concrete housing in the town of Valle Honda, near Cuba's western edge. She remembers being "a vegetable" just five years ago. The right half of her body was paralyzed, and she could form thoughts in her mind but couldn't express the words. At age 10, her brain tumor was growing weekly, radiation had failed, and her doctors sent her home to die.

Her mother, Iraíde, refused to give up hope and sent Yari's father on a mission: He was to bring back the scorpion medicine a fellow cancer patient's mom said could be obtained free in a nearby province. A month later, Iraíde recalls of her daughter, "She was yelling at me: 'Mom, get me out of this bed!'" Since then, Yari has learned to walk again and write with her left hand, because her right is still smaller and weaker from the paralysis. She studies with a state-paid tutor at home and hopes to start normal high school soon. She has not missed a day of the venom medicine — and has a new weekly routine. Saturday nights, she walks two miles roundtrip to the nearest reggaeton dance club. "My mom jokes that it's like my church," Yari says, "because I go every weekend without fail."

This scorpion medicine has produced results only on solid or organ cancers like those in the lungs, pancreas, brain, or stomach. It hasn't been found effective for liquid or blood-based cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma. Nor does the medicine always yield results like those that occurred with the two children. Most patients seek the venom after everything else has failed.  These patients have very weak immune systems and the cancer has already metastasized, so it's hard to expect really surprising results every time.

But if the treatment is administered in the early stages of sickness, its impact is more profound, he believes. "We hope to help turn cancer from being a fatal disease into a chronic and manageable one, like diabetes", says the developers. 

Labiofam claims to have studied the effects of the venom on 10,000 patients, including 3,500 foreigners. But there is no public compilation of the methodology or results. No independent experts have conducted experiments, and none of Labiofam's work has been submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. 

The medical world is therefore skeptical. "Rhopalurus junceus, or blue scorpion venom, originated from Cuba... is often marketed as having anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties," reads the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website. "The manufacturers' research cannot be corroborated. Continued research... is needed."

What is established is the product's safety. Labiofam says it conducted toxicity tests before it began distributing it, and a reputable laboratory at the Biotechnology Institute of Mexico's largest university, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), recently confirmed the venom formula to be nontoxic to mammals. Indeed, among thousands of online accounts of success or failure with the venom treatment worldwide, not one notes harmful side effects.The harmlessness of the medicine, though, is curious considering its origins. 

So how did this all happen? What made the scientists think to use scorpions in the first place?  

José Perera and Juan González raceup the brambly hillside. It's late, almost noon, and their work will be more difficult when the midday sun sends their tiny, evasive targets out of sight. Lanky, with taut bronzed skin and matching buzzcuts, the two men in their early 40s make their way through spiny brush toward a cluster of rocks. They hold metal pincers in one hand and opaque plastic containers in the other. The pair crouches in unison, carefully yet quickly pushing aside rocks. After a few moments, a small wriggling mass appears. As if sensing something ominous, the scorpion scurries frantically. But these men are professionals. With one motion, Perera steadies his pincers. He quickly grabs the scorpion's tail, thus rendering it as harmless as a grasshopper, and drops it into the container. 

"I'm a scorpion hunter!" Perera says with gusto, stretching his back and surveying the rolling hills of Cuba's Santa Clara valley. The duo is one of a dozen or so teams that spend their days scouring rocks throughout the country in search of the misnamed scorpion, which is actually beige and mauve, not blue.

Back at González's nearby house, they add their catch to the dozens already inside a large metal barrel, covered by several rusty slabs. No living creature could possibly escape. "I've been stung 13 times in five years," Perera says. But neither he nor González is afraid. Though the sting of R. junceus hurts like hell and can cause temporary numbness, it's not deadly to humans. "People hate these animals," Perera reflects, genuinely confounded. "I say, Bring on the scorpions!" 

Indeed, the scorpion might be one of the animal kingdom's most misunderstood creatures. Of the more than 2,000 species worldwide, only 20 to 30 are dangerous to humans, and in those cases, mainly to small children. Scorpions sting only when threatened. 

The complete history of how Cuba stumbled upon its curative arachnid might never be known. There's no written account, and the man who discovered the blue scorpion's powers, a biologist named Misael Bordier Chivas, died of a heart attack seven years ago. But the story goes something like this: While testing several snake, spider, and scorpion venoms for a variety of ailments during the 1980s for the University of Guantánamo, Professor Bordier noticed improvement in rats and dogs taking R. junceus venom. He expanded his experiments and soon saw tumors decrease in size. 

In 1993, word of his research reached a hotel manager named José Felipe Monzón living on the other side of the country in a town called Jagüey Grande. Monzón's 15-year-old daughter, Niurys, had all but lost a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer that had spread to her liver and intestines. Unwilling to give up, Monzón traveled to Guantánamo and begged Bordier for some venom. The professor mixed the first human formula for the girl, who appears to be in good health today. 

Labiofam approached Bordier several years later. The state firm began tests that confirmed the treatment's safety. Given the promising results, the company decided to make it available immediately. Because government health authorities couldn't approve the medicine for sale so quickly, the company found a loophole: It started distributing it free to anyone who gave informed consent in 2003.

That practice meant a large amount of venom was needed. To get it, Labiofam created ascorpionario in the city of Santa Clara, where today more than 7,000 of the creatures wriggle in individual plastic containers on metal shelves. 

"This is where the milking happens," says Manuel Valdés, a veterinarian clad in medical scrubs, latex gloves, and a surgical cap and mask. He's standing inside a small bare room in the Labiofam outpost. In the adjoining acclimatized rooms (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit), every scorpion has an ID number, coded for its region of capture and date of entry. The animals spend 40 days in quarantine — long enough for any pregnant scorpions to give birth and for any potential illness to be detected. Then they enter the venom rotation.

The scorpion twists itself backward as one of Valdés' colleagues uses two long metal tongs to try to steady the five-inch arachnid. "It takes a certain technique," Valdés says. The man aims the tail over a small glass jar sitting in a bucket of ice, and the scientist steps on a pedal attached to an electro-stimulus machine. As a jolt transmitted through the tongs reaches the scorpion, it releases six to 12 "micro-drops" of milky-white venom. "Each scorpion is milked once a month for two years," explains Valdés, who says the average lifespan of R. junceus is ten years. "Then it's released back into the wild to repopulate the species." The venom moves on to Havana, where for years it has been diluted with distilled water depending upon a patient's condition. 

As soon as Labiofam began production, news of the free treatment traveled quickly. "I'd arrive at the office at 6 a.m. and there would already be lines of people around the block," Dr. Fraga recalls. (an area physician) Charter flights full of cancer patients started arriving from Europe. Weeks after an Italian journalist aired a video segment about the venom, hundreds of Italians showed up each day. "We never turned anyone away," Fraga says.

By 2010, the situation had become untenable. First, the government was anxious. In 2004, 2006, and 2009, Cuba's State Control Center for Medicine, Equipment, and Medicinal Products (CECEMD) — the country's equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration — was compelled to issue warnings regarding scorpion treatment. "Cuba does not yet have any pharmaceutical product based on the venom of the blue scorpion," Dr. Rafael Pérez Cristiá, director of Cuba's Regulatory Bureau for the Health Protection and Center for Quality Control, said in 2009. "At this moment, we do not have the documented evidence of the therapeutic action... that would justify its safe and efficient usage."

And supplies were running short. "They would need more than the entire scorpion population in Cuba to keep up production. 

So Labiofam opted for homeopathy. This approach quickly gained approval, and Vidatox was born. The extremely diluted solution made it more viable to mass-produce. The 30-milliliter bottle is now available at Cuban pharmacies at a cost of $220 for foreigners and  only 4 cents for Cuban residents. Labiofam still makes the original, drinkable formula but has stopped its all-access distribution program. 

Another formula is in the works. Diaz's team has identified five proteins in the venom that have anti-tumor capacities and will use these as the basis for a recombinant or synthetic version. One of the proteins being researched is likely a peptide known as chlorotoxin (CTX), which can be derived from many scorpion species. It has been researched in relation to cancer for 20 years with limited results. Diaz says if these elements can be genetically cloned, the blue scorpions of the future will live in peace.

Perera, the scorpion trapper, might worry that these advances would put him out of a job — but he doesn't. He has something more important on his mind. "My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a year ago," he says, choking up. The elder Perera is undergoing chemo and drinking the venom daily. His son believes the fruits of his labor are helping his father feel stronger and more energetic. "I feel proud that I can be a part of bringing the scorpions to the people who need them." 

But those who don't have the time or money or health to get to the tiny island have few other options. A handful of doctors outside Cuba administer the treatment, including a California oncologist who had an integrative-medicine practice in Tijuana, where he treated several patients from the States. "At first, we witnessed remarkable recoveries," Dr. Santiago Vargas wrote in an email, noting that he discovered escozul in 2005 and that his practice closed in 2011, but he did not indicate a reason. "Still, as we continued to recommend it, we found some inconsistency in the results; apparently it worked best for gastrointestinal tract cancers. I was told it worked well for most other forms of cancer; this was not our experience." He obtained the venom from Mexico City, where there's another physician who travels to Cuba every three months and claims to make the venom in collaboration with Bordier's son. 

Those who can't travel to see these physicians must place their faith in online third parties. Labiofam has secured homeopathic licenses for Vidatox in 22 countries: China, Albania, and several in Latin America. The company's website lists official distributors for these nations. But because neither the United States nor Canada nor any European state has cleared Vidatox through a rigorous homeopathic standards process, venom seekers must rely on the black market. 

It's particularly complicated for patients in the United States because an embargo prohibits any product of Cuban origin — be it medicine, a cigar, or a T-shirt — from entering the country, but companies say they have ways of getting the product to clients in the States regardless.


Cuban research aims at developing vaccines to prevent diseases.  The Cuban medical and pharmaceutical industry largely aims its research at developing vaccines to prevent diseases and, as a result, lower the people’s medication expenses. There are so many parents in the USA that refuse to get their children vaccinated. 

Cuba attains higher health indicators than the United States using up to twenty times less resources, according to an article in Science Magazine by Paul Drain and Michele Barry, two scientists at the Standford University in California. It happens that there are no commercial or market pressures or profits on the Cuban model, while there is a successful educative strategy for the population as to prevention. 

In Cuba, medicines are distributed to the people firstly, through the hospital network free of charge and through a system of drugstores that sell them at highly subsidized prices.

The Cuban pharmaceutical industry hardly uses money for publicity, which in the case of multi-national corporations this activity surpasses the budgets dedicated to doing research.

The Caribbean nation is also boosting the production of generics that it puts at the service of other poor countries and the World Health Organization, at a price which is much lower than those imposed by the big world industry. 

The US economic blockade hurts the US diabetic population. In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes.  In 2010 the figures were 25.8 million and 8.3%. 

The prevalence amongst seniors in the US is high. The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.9%, or 11.8 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed). The new cases that were found there was an incidence of diabetes in 2012 that was 1.7 million new diagnoses/year; in 2010 it was 1.9 million.

  • Deaths: Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, with 69,071 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 234,051 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

Diabetes in Youth

  • About 208,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 0.25% of that population.

  • Last but not least, it is important to note that the US economic blockade of Cuba hinders the marketing of Cuban pharmaceuticals in the United States, thus affecting the US people. For instance, a total of 80 thousand diabetic people who undergo toe amputation every year in the United States every year cannot access the Cuban vaccine known as Heberprot-P, which precisely avoids such amputations.

Cuba is a magnificent example of how knowledge and scientific research can be integrated. The general director of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, once said that she was impressed at the scientific achievements of Cuba and expressed her organization’s willingness to promote them around the world.

So then, the question to be asked here is: Will UNESCO be able to count on the crucial collaboration by the mainstream to promote the Cuban achievements? Will the USA learn how to distribute healthcare in a cost effective manner with the recent changes in our relations with Cuba?  There is a lot we can learn from them. Only time will tell if the USA will learn anything from Cuba.


Posted by tammyduffy at 4:35 PM EST
Saturday, 31 January 2015
It’s All About Lucy: World Youngest Female Golf Prodigy

It’s All About Lucy: World Youngest Female Golf Prodigy


By Tammy Duffy





When you think of golf prodigies, we think of Tiger Woods. A young man who travled with 4 psychologists in his teens to help him overcome the pressures of becoming a professional athlete.


There is a new prodigy, Luci Li.  She is the WORLD’S YOUNGEST female, at the tender age of 11, who stole the show at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst.  She is a sixth grader who has become the youngest Open qualifier.   She holds records in the U.S. Women's Amateur and the U.S. Women's Open.  Li recently finished first in a sectional qualifier in sunny California. This young wonder recently only missed one fairway, sank a 7 foot birdie putt and shot an 8 over par 78.   

Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
I Do! I Do! at Open Arts Stage in Bordentown, NJ

PinnWorth Productions presents

 I Do! I Do! at Open Arts Stage 
in Bordentown, NJ



Join PinnWorth Productions and Open Arts Stage for a dessert theater presentation of I Do! I Do! (by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt) over Valentine’s Day weekend. Starring real-life husband and wife Rob and Laurie Gougher and directed by Lou Stalworth, I Do! I Do! is a charming musical about love and marriage. Desserts will be provided by Mastoris Diner.


Lou J. Stalsworth (Producer/Director) has been directing throughout Central Jersey for more than 30 years. His most recent directing efforts include Hair, Cabaret, On Golden Pond, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Kiss Me, Kate and A Man for All Seasons.


Rob Gougher’s past on-stage roles include The Wolf in Shrek, Patsy in Spamalot, Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone, Mayor Belamy & Doc Robinson in Tom Sawyer, Bill in Hollywood Arms, The Grinch in Seussical, Samuel in Pirates of Penzance, Bill Ray Sr. in On Golden Pond, Venticello in Amadeus, Clement Moore in ’Twas  and Mr. Green in Clue.


Laurie Gougher has directed, musically directed and performed in many shows. Her past on-stage roles include Dot in Sunday in the Park with George, Mother in A Christmas Story, Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Emma Goldman in Ragtime.


WHAT: I Do! I Do!


WHO: Open Arts Stage and PinnWorth Productions


WHEN: Fri., February 13 and Sat., February 14 at 8 p.m., Sun., February 15 at 2 p.m.


WHERE: Open Arts Stage, 146 U.S. 130, Bordentown Township, NJ 08505


TICKETS: $27.50 in advance ($30 at door); Seniors/students $25 in advance ($27.50 at door). Purchase tickets online at bit.ly/i-do-i-do-valentines-tickets.


Open Arts Stage is a performance and education venue that provides affordable space to independent artists and offers engaging programming. Open Arts Stage is committed to providing rehearsal and performance space to artists at affordable rates, and we look forward to hosting your next event.


Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 30 January 2015
Chocolate Painting at HAM Is a Treat for the Palette and the Palate

Chocolate Painting at HAM Is a Treat

for the Palette and the Palate




Treat your sweetie or yourself to an evening of painting on chocolate on Friday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. with Chocodiem and the Hunterdon Art Museum.

Celebrate Valentine's Day at the Museum with a delicious evening that includes a chocolate tasting with Jean-Paul Hepp, the founder of Chocodiem. Then artist Amanda Wentz will help you get creative painting on truffles with dyed cocoa butter. You can also sample some tasty European-style hot chocolate.

"We enjoy pairing chocolate with distinctive taste combinations, but this is our first time pairing chocolate and art," Hepp said. "We certainly hope everyone will come out and enjoy using our premium chocolate bars for their palette and their palate.  It’s the ultimate in matchmaking!"

Cost for “Chocolat: Chocolate Painting with Chocodiem” is $35 per person or $60 for couples. Indulge your sweet tooth and reserve your space by calling the Museum at 908-735-8415 or registering online at www.hunterdonartmuseum.org.

Chocodiem, 49 Main St. in Clinton, focuses on making the best chocolate possible.  Using Old World Belgian standards, master chocolatier Hepp, along with pastry chef, Kathleen Hernandez, hand make gourmet chocolates in small batches with unique and distinctive fillings and flavor combinations for any occasion.

The Hunterdon Art Museum, located at 7 Lower Center St. in Clinton, presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art, craft and design in a 19th century stone mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It also offers a dynamic schedule of art classes and workshops for children and adults.


The Museum is at 7 Lower Center St. in Clinton, New Jersey, 08809. Our website is www.hunterdonartmuseum.org and our telephone number is 908-735-8415. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm and suggested admission is $5.


The Hunterdon Art Museum presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art, craft and design in a 19th century stone mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Founded in 1952, the Museum is a landmark regional art center showcasing works by established and emerging contemporary artists. It also offers a dynamic schedule of art classes and workshops for children and adults.

Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Cultural Trust, The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey and corporations, foundations, and individuals.  The Hunterdon Art Museum is a wheelchair accessible space.  Publications are available in large print.  Patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may contact the Museum through the New Jersey Relay Service at (TYY) 1 (800) 852-7899.


Posted by tammyduffy at 12:40 PM EST
World’s Tallest Indoor Rope Obstacle Course

World’s Tallest Indoor Rope Obstacle Course


By Tammy Duffy



While nearly everyone experiences some degree of anxiety at the thought of a great, perilous drop, for some, the fear can be debilitating. If your fear of heights is so extreme that it interferes with your performance at school or work or hampers your enjoyment of everyday activities, you are likely to have acrophobia. I personally have a rather large fear of heights. A 5 foot ladder will put my legs into wiggle worm mode.


For years I have been trying to overcome my fears of heights and deep water. I optimized (have not overcome) my fear of deep water by signing myself up for my first triathlons in 2014. I trained in a 13 foot pool a lake and the ocean. It was no easy task but I did it. I completed 4 triathlons and lived to tell it.



In 2015, I made it a goal to work on my fear of heights as well.  I learned about the World’s Largest Indoor Rope Course by a Guinness book of World record holder, Fran Capo. On my quest to overcome my fear of heights I decided to take the drive to West Nyack over the weekend.


The Palisades Climb Adventure is located at 4590 Palisades Center Drive, West Nyack, NY. You can enter this obstacle course on the 4th level of the Palisades Mall. I paid my $16.99 and was then strapped into a harness with a tether, which was clipped to my waist and attached to a steel track overhead.


I proceeded to walk down the steps to start at the easiest part of the course first. This is 25 feet off the ground. My heart was racing, but I was determined. 



Just gazing at the tower of steel tracks, rope bridges, balance beams, and slack lines can be intimidating.  What makes this course unique in safety is that you’re never unattached. In other places you can unhook yourself, but here you are double-locked into your harness and attached to the course through all five levels.  There is no way you can fall

The structure is designed so that its 75 challenges provide about 45 minutes of excitement, no matter what your level of skill might be. If you want to on the course all day, you can. There is no time limit to your visit.  The course helps with agility, focus, balance, and stamina — which is effective for everyone from children to experienced climbers. For the youngest set (children under 48 inches), there’s a Sky Tykes mommy-and-me program on a separate playground. Sky Tykes passes are $8.99, regular course admission is $16.99.

As I got to the top, I paused. You can feel the entire structure sway a bit as you stand stationary. I took a deep breath and picked my “poison”, aka obstacle.  I was taking a step across a tightrope at 85 feet high that I realized I wasn’t afraid of heights, but that I was terrified of falling from high places. I’d already committed to crossing the rope, so I wrapped my hands tightly around my umbilical harness (white knuckled the entire way) and took another step across the world’s highest indoor ropes course. I watched a small child in equal amounts of panic cross prior to my walk and thought,” He did not die, so I can do this!” .



One also has the ability to set up group visits, including corporate team building, special-needs field trips, scout troop outings, and birthday parties.  Whether you come with a group, solo, or with a friend, you can still have a great time. I saw a father-and-son duo going through the course pretending to be super heroes.



Although I’m an avid adventurist, there were a couple of ropes challenges I wasn’t ready to try, and some I attempted only after watching a small child survive the walk.  After I finished the course I asked the team to install a bar for I could have really used a glass of wine after that walk at 85 feet.

I realized that despite the rewards of plowing through fear and getting a good workout, the best part was remembering how to let go and just have fun.


Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 January 2015 2:11 PM EST
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Topic: REEALY?



By Tammy Duffy




The world's first ever pet terminal will be built at JFK Airport next year. Named "The Ark", the state-of-the-art facility will cater for the overseas travel of everything from household pets to farmyard animals.


ARK Development, LLC, an affiliate of real estate company Racebrook Capital, announced this week that it has signed a 30-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to develop the mammoth facility. Spanning 178,000 square feet, the terminal will include direct access to the runway for animals, as well a 24-hour veterinary hospital and a 24-hour quarantine facility for the import and export of horses, pets, birds and livestock.

"The animal terminal will set new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services," said Founder John J.Cuticelli, Jr.

Indeed, the site is the first of its kind in the world. For those who are worries that air travel is about to go to the dogs, though, the project is also expected to give some puppy love to the economy. The $48 million development will create more than 180 jobs and generate revenues for the Port Authority of
New York and New Jersey estimated at $108 million over the span of the project’s 30-year lease.

"The ARK at JFK posed a unique design challenge for us: to create a place that could ease and simplify the sometimes complex process of transporting animals by plane," said Cliff Bollmann, Senior Associate of Gensler, the architect firm hired to design the facility.


"For the animals who pass through The Ark, as well as the people who own them, air travel can be stressful and confusing. Aligning the needs of quarantine with kenneling and elevating the experience for animals and their owners, our design team sought to create a comfortable, healthy environment for them all."

Animals travelling through The ARK will be treated to a large departure lounge - including stalls, food and water for horses - and an arrival area complete with cattle handling facility. The site also includes an aviary and a veterinarian, plus Paradise 4 Paws - a 24-hour pet resort with overnight accommodations for cats and dogs, plus grooming, training, and airport parking.

The ARK is estimated to handle at least 70,000 animal passengers every year. There is no confirmation yet on whether they will have to travel two-by-two.

Posted by tammyduffy at 7:48 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 25 January 2015 7:59 AM EST

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