Death During First Responder Training Probed in Pa.

Death During First Responder Training Probed in Pa.

News Nov 29, 2012

Nov. 29--The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a man after first responder training Tuesday at the Public Safety Training Institute at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

An autopsy determined the man, an employee of PPL Utilities, died of natural causes, Luzerne County Acting Coroner William Lisman said.

Still, OSHA plans to investigate whether any part of the training environment led to the death, said Mark Stelmack, area director for OSHA, based in Wilkes-Barre.

"We opened an investigation and we're gathering facts to determine what went on, what happened. We're in a fact-finding mode," Stelmack said. "We're just looking for circumstances that surrounded the fatality and if there are any causal factors that contributed to the death."

The coroner's office declined to release the man's name because the death was a result of natural causes.

PPL officials say the man was a full-time "handyman" at the PPL nuclear power plant in Salem Township and was part of the company's on-site fire brigade, which is required to take first-responder training classes.

"We did have an unfortunate incident happen yesterday. One of our employees was participating in first responder training at LCCC. During that training, he required medical attention. He did get medical attention and he was transferred to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead," said PPL spokesman Joseph Scopelliti. "We are saddened by this loss and our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the employee."

Scopelliti said PPL contacted OSHA after the man's death and opened its own investigation. He noted many employees have used the LCCC training facility without any problems.

Stelmack said OSHA will have six months to complete its report.

LCCC's Public Safety Training Institute was at the center of controversy earlier this month when police charged a former secretary of the facility with pocketing at least $16,800 in cash tuition payments over several years.

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The school's public safety center, off of Middle Road, offers training classes for police officers, firefighters and paramedics, and other first responders.

The college released a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

"A PPL Susquehanna employee died Tuesday afternoon while participating in a first responder training program at the Luzerne County Community College Public Safety Training Institute. During a portion of the training, the employee required medical assistance," said the release by college spokeswoman, Lisa Nelson. "The on-site trainer began to administer CPR and a college official called 911. An ambulance transported the employee to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

"On behalf of Luzerne County Community College, President Thomas P. Leary expresses his sympathy to the employee's family during this very difficult and sad time," the release said.

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2055, @cvbobkal

Copyright 2012 - The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

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The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Bob Kalinowski
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