Up & Coming Weekly

April 28, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 14 UCW APRIL 29-MAY 5, 2020 EARL VAUGHAN JR., Senior Staff Writer. COMMENTS? EarlUCWS- ports@gmail.com. 910-364-6638. Hope Mills News & Views The town of Hope Mills got a piece of good news recently when it was announced the pedestrian bridge at Hope Mills Dam passed a first-ever safety inspection with flying colors. Don Sisko, head of the Hope Mills Public Works department, said the pedestrian bridge, which is a little more than 10 years old, had never been inspected as far as he knows. Sisko added the bridge is actually not subject to any statutory requirement that it be inspected. "We did it as a prudent measure to help ensure resident safety and make sure it is a sound structure,'' Sisko said. The town hired the engineering firm of Vaughn and Melton out of New Bern to handle the inspection, which was conducted on April 8. Sisko said Vaughn and Melton is a firm used by the Department of Transportation to conduct roadway bridge inspections around the state. The Hope Mills pedestrian bridge is what's known as a truss bridge and spans 126 feet, 3.5 inches across the creek bed below the dam. Sisko said national bridge inspection criteria includes a variety of things like superstructure, substructure, the deck, the channel, waterway adequacy, approaches and alignments. The bridge is largely used by people who are visiting the Hope Mills Lake Park, Sisko said, and there's no measure available of the number of people who walk across it during the course of a year. The bridge is meant to be used only by pedestrians, not by anyone on a wheeled vehicle like a bicycle. The lifespan of the bridge is largely dictated by the weather and the maintenance that is performed on it, like fixing a broken weld on one of the trusses that help provide the bridge's support. Sisko said the engineering firm put a ladder in the creek bed below the bridge to examine it from underneath. All of the various aspects of the bridge Sisko listed earlier were examined by the inspectors and given a number grade from zero to nine. A nine is usually reserved for a new bridge in excellent condition. Sisko said the Hope Mills bridge got grades of seven and eight across the board. Looking ahead, Sisko said the town will schedule inspections of the bridge biannually, meaning the next one will occur in 2022. "It will help us keep on top of things,'' Sisko said. Hope Mills pedestrian bridge passes inspection by EARL VAUGHAN JR. NEWS In his role as emergency manage- ment director and fire marshal for Hoke County, Bryan Marley spends his typical work days in front of a com- puter dealing with planning and coor- dinating emergency-related matters. But as a career firefighter who has worked in close proximity with fellow fireman and other first responders, the member of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners appreciates the challenges his peers in the field are facing now as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic while serving in frontline roles. "You don't know what's happening day to day,'' he said. "Stuff changes. Numbers fluctuate. You get executive orders handed down.'' The biggest problem for rescue workers in the field is the nationwide shortage of what's called PPE, personal protective equipment. "Nobody can get their hands on masks, gloves and gowns,'' Marley said. "You call your suppli- ers and they don't have it and don't know when they will be able to get it. Everybody is sold out of everything. It's a crazy time.'' With protective gear in short supply, Marley said first responders have been forced to reuse what used to be disposable items, learning how to disinfect masks and gloves so they can be worn in multiple situations. In some cases, first responders may resort to unusual alternatives, like punching armholes in large garbage bags and using them as gowns, or wearing coffee filters as breathing masks. While this may not be perfect, Marley compared it to the differ- ence between eating a steak sand- wich versus a bologna sandwich. "When you're hungry, a bologna sandwich is like a steak sandwich,'' he said. Concerns over COVID-19 have changed the way fire departments are handling emergency calls these days. There was a time when a fire truck routinely accompanied paramedic rescue vehicles on calls. Because of the virus, calls are handled differently now and fire trucks often don't respond. When someone calls 911, Marley said, the dis- patcher asks a series of questions. If the caller replies yes to them, they meet the protocol for a COVID-19 response and the fire truck won't be dispatched on the call. Marley said this is to prevent the amount of people exposed to someone who may be infected with COVID-19. The dispatcher will also warn the paramedics going out on the call that they need to take all necessary precautions for working with someone who may be carrying COVID-19. But as big a challenge as dealing with the virus directly is, Marley said that's only part of he prob- lem for first responders. "You listen to this stuff all day long, then you go home and everything is closed down,'' Marley said. "You can't go any- where or do anything. "Everything you used to do to relieve your stress levels when you get off, you can't do. You're cooped up at the house.'' There's also the anguish of loading a COVID-19 patient onto the ambulance and watching them say goodbye to their family, who can't even go to the hospital to be with them and could be saying goodbye to that person for the last time. "Stuff like that weighs on you after awhile,'' Marley said. Marley's advice to everyone is to follow the orders of Gov. Roy Cooper and stay home as much as possible. "Limit where you go and what you do, and we'll get through this thing a whole lot quicker,'' he said. "Listen to what the experts say.'' Marley says COVID-19 huge challenge for first responders by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Bryan Marley The pedestrian bridge at Hope Mills Dam passed a first- ever safety inspection with flying colors.

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