Back to School

first_img“Why don’t we all start off with a little introduction,” says Jason, our Wilderness First Aid (WFA) instructor from Landmark Learning.It was 8am on a Saturday morning and for the first time in over a year, I was back in school. Literally.Last weekend, my alma mater, Emory & Henry College, served as host for a WFA course through Landmark Learning’s Wilderness Medicine Institute. I was back in my old stomping grounds, the college’s outdoor program building, the very place where I first tied a figure eight knot and learned about Leave No Trace.There was the same whiteboard in front of me, the same canoes cinched in the rafters above, the same wall stacked with boats and backpacks and climbing gear. I remember spending long nights at that building. It was our home away from home, the place we went to when we needed a quiet place to study but, more often than not, found ourselves distracted by the bouldering cave and the Sublime tunes we blasted over the speaker system. Ah, those were the days.The last time I took a WFA course, I was deep in the jungles of the Amazon on my NOLS semester abroad. At the time, it didn’t just seem appropriate that I was learning about wilderness first aid – it was downright necessary. That was back in 2011 though, and I’d since let my two-year certification expire, thinking, “I’m not going to be a guide or an instructor. I don’t need it.”But when my mentor and former outdoor program director Jim told me the college was hosting the course, I decided it would be worth my while to get a refresher. After all, I certainly hadn’t stopped recreating in the outdoors. In fact, my job required it. While I hadn’t needed to use any of my first aid skills in the past couple of years, it was only a matter of time. IMG_9112Ironically, that time came just two days prior to my WFA course. A few friends of mine in Asheville decided to show me around the singletrack at Bent Creek so I could christen my Violet on the local N.C. trails. As we were charging through one of the last downhill sections of our ride, one of my friends hit the front brake just a little too hard and sent herself OTB x 2.She landed, shoulder first, on a raised root system, shielding her face as the bike came crashing after her. It happened so fast, and her wipeout was so graceful, that at first I wasn’t sure if she would bounce right back up laughing or if she would continue to lay there in the fetal position, crumpled in a ball of hurt.Of course, it was the latter that ensued. My friends and I immediately sprung into action, asking about her head, her back, what hurt most, could she move at all, did anything feel broken? We kept her on her side while the initial shock of the wipeout wore off. We exposed her shoulder, assessing the already red and swollen lump and concluding that it likely wasn’t broken, but that she definitely was not riding out.Surprisingly, we all kicked into gear like a well-oiled machine. One of the guys hopped on his bike and rode the remaining few miles out to grab a truck while the rest of us split up other duties like carrying her pack, walking her bike, and helping her get comfortable enough to hike out. I fashioned a sling for her out of my Deuter day pack and we proceeded to walk in the fading daylight toward the gravel road. Fortunately, a kind couple picked her up shortly afterward and she’s on the mend as we speak.IMG_9101“My name’s Manda, and I’ve never done anything like this before, but I figure it’s a good thing to know,” says a woman off to my right.We’d finally made it through all of the introductions. From zoologists to Boy Scout troop leaders, swimming coaches, and search and rescue volunteers, it was amazing how different the 14 people in the room were. Educators, students, working professionals from every background, some who were seasoned outdoorsmen and others who openly admitted to being “lab rats.”“Now, imagine you are mountain biking in DuPont State Forest and your buddy has a really bad wreck,” Jason says, setting the stage for our first scenario post-introductions. “What do you do?”For the next two days, Jason answered that question. What do you do when you’re in the wilderness and you or someone else gets injured? He talked us through the basics of backcountry medicine, how to size up the scene of an accident, perform a comprehensive patient assessment, formulate a treatment and, if needed, an evacuation plan. We even learned how to execute basic short-term treatments for everything from hypothermia to dislocated shoulders and full thickness burns.Sure, there’s a pretty low likelihood of any of us on the East encountering someone suffering from altitude sickness or a life-threatening amputation, but knowing even the basics could be the difference between life and death. Sometimes I catch myself getting sucked into invincibility mode, that dangerous point where your skills and your adventures start to plateau and, after so many incident-free outings, you begin to get complacent. That’s never a good place to be and I’m always quick to be humbled, but especially after the Bent Creek incident and the WFA wake-up call, I realized just how quickly things can turn bad when you’re a few hours from hospitals and reliable cell reception.IMG_9120“The number one thing you can do to help yourself is prevention,” Jason says on our final day of training. “If you can prevent an accident from happening, you’ll never have to deal with the repercussions.”I couldn’t agree more, and I encourage everyone to get a little basic first aid training regardless of their level of outdoor activity. I’d say if it doesn’t personally make you feel better about going out in the woods alone, it’ll surely make your climbing partners and paddling buddies feel a little safer knowing someone in the group can lend a hand in a time of need.Have you had any close calls in the woods? Ever needed to call upon your first aid skills in the wilderness? Let’s hear some stories!last_img read more

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Equels honored for heroism

first_imgFor service in Vietnam September 15, 2003 Regular News Equels honored for heroism Florida litigator Thomas K. Equels, an Army aviator who was honored seven times for heroism in Vietnam, has been inducted in the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, comprised exclusively of war heroes who received the highest honor for military flying.During his service in Vietnam, Equels was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, 15 air medals including three with “V” devise for valor, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.“I was a helicopter gunship pilot facing combat almost every day,” said Equels, managing director of the law firm Holtzman Equels. “The war taught me to be totally calm and clear in highly challenging situations.”Equels will be recognized during an annual ceremony in San Diego this fall.Equels’ first Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded for a rescue mission during the first days of the 1972 “Spring Offensive” when five divisions of the North Vietnamese Army invaded the south. Equels was the co-pilot of a Cobra helicopter gunship conducting aerial reconnaissance when Camp Carroll, an allied firebase, was being overrun by several thousand North Vietnamese troops. While the allied troops sought emergency shelter in a bunker at the center of the firebase, Equels provided suppressive gunfire, driving back the enemy forces. A Chinook helicopter then landed and rescued the surviving allied soldiers as Equels’ Cobra took over 50 hits from enemy fire while covering the evacuation.Equels earned a second Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during a battle near the town of Tian Phuoc. As a heavily armed brigade of North Vietnamese attacked this outpost of allied troops, Equels engaged the enemy, providing close fire support and slowed the approaching attack. Two enemy tanks then joined the attack. Unfortunately, bad weather prevented U.S. Air Force fighter jets, typically used to destroy such tanks, from joining the battle. Assisted by a second Cobra, Equels attacked and not only wiped out the two tanks, but inflicted massive casualties on the enemy.“I was a 19-year-old who believed in creating a world of free people living in democratic institutions,” Equels said. “When I returned from Vietnam, I became a lawyer, determined to devote a part of my practice to social justice. I still think that we can change the world for the better, a little bit at a time, by dealing with everyday matters that are within our power and abilities. No matter how difficult things become, the willingness of brave citizens to serve is what counts. Whether serving as a helicopter pilot in combat or serving food at a church soup kitchen for the homeless, our country and our communities depend on such service. It is vital to the preservation of liberty and our democratic institutions.”Among his professional achievements, Equels, obtained a $44-million judgment against Manuel Noriega for money he misappropriated from the Republic of Panama.As a community leader, Equels received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Community Service Award in 1995, the Guild of Catholic Lawyers’ St. Thomas Moore Award in 1991, as well as The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award, and the Federal Bar Association’s Public Service Award in 1987. Equels honored for heroismlast_img read more

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Swiss regulator pushes for conversion rate in view of COVID-19 crisis

first_imgThe Swiss federal pensions regulator Oberaufsichtskommission (OAK BV) is pressing for an accelerated process of adjusting pension funds’ technical parameters based on economic and demographic scenarios in light of the COVID-19 crisis.Manfred Hüsler, the director of the supervisory body, told IPE that one particular parameter to change is the Umwandlungssatz (UWS), the conversion rate used to calculate pension payouts from accrued assets upon retirement, for the mandatory part of the occupational pension plan.“The last adjustment was made 15 years ago, since then life expectancy has risen and interest rates have dropped significantly,” he said.The parliament tried twice to review the conversion rate, in 2010 and 2017, but a referendum rejected the proposal, he added. In the regulator’s latest annual report on pension funds’ financial positions, OAK BV disclosed results of a survey of 1,504 funds, which represent 92.6% of all Swiss second pillar pension funds, with assets totalling CHF1trn (€995bn).The report noted that 59% of the funds with 67% of the retirement savings had already lowered their conversion rates to 6% or lower, in fact anticipating the proposal for a reform to the Swiss second pillar pension system which expected a reduction to 6%.The Umwandlungssatz still represents a dominant risk for the second pillar system, OAK said.The coronavirus crisis has forced an extension on the reform consultation until May 29, after the Federal Council had invited the Swiss Employers’ Association (SAV), the Swiss Trade Union Federation (SGB) and Travail.Suisse to make a series of proposals for a review.“There is a clear majority in the parliament that supports reducing the conversion rate, but it is difficult to assess what the parliament’s decision will look like and whether the reform will pass, especially whether there will be a referendum,” Hüsler said, adding that a public vote can be expected on such an important matter.A reduction of the conversion rate will have an impact on the compulsory part of occupational pensions, lowering in particular the pensions of low-income workers, therefore, “there should be a compensation for these people. How this can be financed or how high it should be is very controversial,” he added.In its annual report, the authority found that the guaranteed interest rate for pensions further reduced last year, but interest rates fell deeper. Interest rates are, in many cases, higher than the technical interest rates used by pension funds to determine their funding level.This difference is not designed by law and has not yet been financed through equal contributions, it added.Returns and funding levelsPension funds have achieved above-average returns in equity, real estate and bonds in recent years. The funding level at the end of 2019 was consistently good despite low interest rates, with 99% of private and public pension schemes without guarantees achieving funding levels of at least 100%, compared to 86% in the prior year.The coverage ratio of funds without guarantees rose on average to 111.6% last year compared to 106.4% the previous year, and in the case of public pension funds with guarantees to 79.8% in 2019 from 77.7% in the year before. Manfred Hüsler, director at OAK BVAt the end of April, funding levels reached 105.6% for pension funds without guarantees, and 75.5% for public pension funds with guarantees, while 7% of the funds without guarantees showed a rather high or a high risk in terms of funding levels.The coverage situation for pension schemes with a state guarantee continues to lead to significantly higher risks, according to the report.“Pension plans with a state guarantee are exposed to the development of the capital market in roughly the same way (of those without guarantees), but you have employers under public law,” Hüsler said.The recession caused by COVID-19 crisis will not impact upon state pension plans, employers in the public sector will not lose jobs because of insolvencies, which means that companies will not lose contributions, he added.Last year, the average net return on assets generated by pension funds without guarantees was 10.4% compared to -2.8% in 2018, and 11.5% for public pension funds with state guarantee, compared to -2.6% the previous year.OAK warned that losses on all major investment classes can materialize in 2020, in addition to an increase in underfunding levels, which has already ballooned to 25.4% in the first four months of 2020 compared to 1.1% at the end of 2019.The volatility of stock markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has put pension funds under stress, teh report stated, adding that schemes will have to be able to critically assess whether underfunding is only a cause of market turmoil or of structural financing problems.The latter must be addressed as quickly as possible, OAK said in the report.For the regulator, pensions funds that would be able to mitigate the negative economic effects of the coronavirus crisis would reinforce financial stability based on already good funding levels prior to the crisis.Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here.last_img read more

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Sportradar – Quality assurance is the best metric in eliminating ghost games

first_imgShare StumbleUpon Sportradar combats social media abuse with player protection solution August 17, 2020 Björn Nilsson: How Triggy is delivering digestible data through pre-set triggers August 28, 2020 Related Articles Submit Supporting betting stakeholders and the global sports community, Sportradar has published a white-paper detailing key findings, insights and observations on ‘ghost games’.The white paper titled ‘Ghost Games: An Explanation’ has been produced by Oscar Brodkin, Sportradar Director of Intelligence & Investigation Services.The paper defines a ghost game as a match which simply does not take place as stated, and is falsely advertised to bookmakers, punters and the public, in order to achieve profit from the betting markets, with the perpetrators having advanced knowledge of the final score, which they have decided.Writing the white paper, Brodkin makes a clear distinction between ghost game functions and objectives as compared to standard match-fixing.“Matches fixed for betting profits happen every day and they are real in every way,” said the report. “The games do take place as advertised, the teams (or individuals) are full-strength, but intend to manipulate some or all of the match contrary to the betting markets’ expectations.”Making further observations, Sportradar highlights the gang’s intent on targeting intelligence weak spots related to transmitting live sports data.Unlike certain smaller data fraud aspects where perpetrators focus on data errors related to time delays to gain an advantage over betting markets, ghost games focus on relaying wholly fictitious data to bookmakers on advanced outcomes.For criminal gangs, the authenticity of their fake simulations is the key factor in securing their intended results.The paper added: “Fixers are not just 30 seconds or 30 minutes ahead of the action; they are aware of the final score because the events are inputted at their discretion. To pull off a ghost match, a scout or a syndicate must adhere to a number of principles, plan methodically, execute and ride their luck.”In terms of resources and technical know-how, Sportradar explains that ghost games are more difficult for criminals to undertake than standard match-fixing.Nevertheless, Sportradar states that consequences can be severe, as gangs can secure sizeable returns from their activities which will likely be reinvested in further corrupt activities targeting athletes, coaches and referees.In addition, the report underlines the significant ‘reputational damage’ that ghost games can have on an individual club, federation, bookmaker and data provider deceived by the criminal activity.In the case of football, gangs will likely target lower-profile leagues, developing their commercial and security capacities. The consequences of ghost game deceptions can be significant on funding, league confidence and stakeholder reputations.Explaining the criminal consequences, Sportradar adds: “In the case of the Belarusian ghost match between SFC Slutsk and SFC Shakhter on February 3rd 2015, The Daily Telegraph featured the story. Through no fault of their own, the league might suffer financial losses such as sponsor withdrawal.”Sportradar underlines ‘quality assurance’ monitoring live and pre-match events as the key element in combating ghost games.To protect clients and football stakeholders, data providers must deploy effective scout systems monitoring leagues in which ghost games are likely to take place.Data integrity is further noted as a key element, in which providers must check the source of information, with all fixtures and events verified by relevant governing bodies.Of further note, Sportradar advises stakeholders to record key match variables related to audio and visual quality, such as whether ‘background noise’ can be recorded to verify the individual is present at the reported match.In summary, Sportradar concludes that “ghost matches will continue to be a source of intrigue and a target for opportunists, but effective measures – spearheaded by legitimate forward-thinking data providers – are in place to combat such rare phenomena”._____________________ David Lampitt, Sportradar: F1 presents betting’s most sizeable opportunity August 14, 2020 Sharelast_img read more

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