When local paramedics arrive to help someone who may have a respiratory illness, they won’t rush in to take a pulse and start treatment.

Thanks to the swine flu epidemic, they’ll stand back — six feet back — and ask questions. Then they’ll move forward, perhaps after putting on special equipment, and get down to business.

The “Six-Foot-Rule” is new, and so are several other precautions that are becoming routine in ambulances and ERs. The threat of swine flu is changing the world of emergency medicine in San Diego County, which has been especially hard hit by the disease.

In other news:

  • Here’s a great idea: make fuel out of plants. Lots and lots of fuel. Then we can stop pulling oil and coal out of the earth and live happily ever. Heck, maybe Al Gore can finally retire!

    It’s a nice dream, but it’s been tougher to make fuel from plants than people thought. Exhibit A: jatropha, a poisonous weed that looked to be the Next Big Thing in the biofuel world — until it didn’t.

    Now, however, two local companies think they can make something out of jatropha after all.

  • Earlier this week, we profiled Sundiata Kata, “King of the Music Room,” who brightens the lives of kids through music. But he doesn’t just work with youngsters. In a follow-up, we look at how Kata helped a man restore music to his life and recover lost dreams.
  • Elsewhere: Out of the public eye, officials from five North County cities met yesterday to discuss how to work together to build a stadium for the Chargers.
  • “A judge has ruled that mandatory overtime worked by San Diego paramedics cannot be applied to their pension benefit calculations, giving the city a legal victory in its fight to keep soaring retirement costs down,” reports the U-T.
  • The south jetty in Mission Bay is getting repaired, at long last, with the help of federal stimulus funds. (U-T)
  • “The Navy’s HIV infection rate has been rising for a decade and is significantly higher than any other military branch,” reports The Virginian-Pilot. No one seems to know why.

    San Diego is one of three places where HIV-positive sailors receive treatment. The sailors can remain in the Navy, but can’t go on sea duty or be stationed overseas.

  • Remember that lobbyist for SDG&E’s parent company who got swept up in a Sacramento sex scandal? A Republican assemblyman from Orange County crudely bragged over an open mike about enjoying intimate relations with a lobbyist, and folks figured it was her.

    The scandal reigned as the naughtiest brouhaha in the state capital until last week, when a gubernatorial veto declaration turned out to have a dirty hidden message. But I digress.

    Now, Sempra Energy says the lobbyist is returning to work after an investigation. Various officials either aren’t investigating or aren’t filing charges. And the woman’s attorney says she’s been smeared. (SacBee)

  • Border officials looked into some suitcases in a vehicle on Monday and found about 343 pounds of dead sea cucumbers.

    Sea cucumbers are a delicacy in some parts of the world and expensive too. There’s no word on where the sea cucumbers are now, but I’ll be monitoring local seafood menus.

    In other underwater news, 82 endangered green sea turtles hatched at SeaWorld last month. The AP reports “they’ve been getting a diet of squid, krill, shrimp and special pellets.”

Kids these days. Always getting special treatment.

— RANDY DOTINGA

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