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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Broadcasters Union Urges Field Safety Standards

May 25, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Unions representing broadcasters and camera crews called for an emergency meeting Wednesday with radio and television stations to devise uniform safety standards for news gathering in the field.

The announcement was made two days after TV news reporter Adrienne Alpert suffered fourth-degree burns when the microwave antenna from a KABC-TV, Channel, 7 broadcast van grazed or came near a 34,500-volt power line.

Alpert remained in critical but stable condition Wednesday at the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.

Union representatives said they hope to meet with stations no later than May 30 to begin establishing citywide safety guidelines.

"We want all [stations] to follow a standard," said Gena Stinnett, president of National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communication Workers of America Local 57. "No station should try to beat another station to a story by cutting corners on safety."

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists joined Stinnett's union in the call for the guidelines. Safety standards vary by station, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no such guidelines for broadcast media, said Gerry Daley of the AFTRA local.

Alpert, 48, was severely burned as she and van driver Heather MacKenzie were preparing to cover a Los Angeles police news conference in Hollywood. As the van's antenna was being raised, it came close enough to the wires to create a power arc. That triggered an explosion and sent electricity through the van in which Alpert was sitting.

Tuesday evening, doctors performed vascular surgery to remove blood clots and help improve circulation in Alpert's left forearm and hand. Her left hand has been colder than her right, which has concerned doctors.

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