Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition Awarded $394,000 From DHS Grant To Help Protect Firefighters

Since January 1 the CPTC has tracked 1,100 civilians treated for smoke inhalation, 413 smoke inhalation deaths, and 125 firefighters who were transported for smoke inhalation treatment. Contrary to popular belief, whether a civilian or a firefighter, smoke inhalation isn't a minor injury -- it's deadly.

Annually thousands of civilians die from smoke inhalation because they don't wear air masks to prevent smoke exposure from a fire they never thought would strike.

On the other hand, firefighters are exposed to smoke by profession -- not accidentally, according to Kevin Reilly, president of the CPTC and Ridgewood, N.J. firefighter.

"Firefighters have self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to prevent smoke inhalation, but many firefighters don't use air when they should, and are therefore exposed to what we call, The Toxic Twins, CO and HCN, which work synergistically to kill," he said.

Acute and chronic smoke exposure caused by firefighters not wearing and using air is more than likely the cause of heart attacks, diseases and illnesses which now plague the profession. In a message to fire service leaders Capt. Mike Gagliano, Seattle Fire Department, said, "I can think of no greater hypocrisy than fire service leaders berating politicians for not caring about firefighters until one of us dies, while exhibiting the exact same behavior when they look the other way and ignore shoddy air management practices in the hope that nothing goes wrong inside the fire. Hope is not a plan. Air management is."

Fire smoke myths and misunderstandings will also be corrected.

"I recently heard a firefighter state that smoke color is indicative of the presence of hydrogen cyanide," said Rob Schnepp, chief of special operations for the Alamenda County (Calif.) Fire Department. "That is absolutely not true. HCN and CO are colorless gases. The last thing we need in the fire service is misinformation. Determining whether HCN is or is not present on the fireground cannot be based on the color of smoke. This training program guarantees firefighters will receive accurate research and information from qualified and respected HCN and fire industry experts.”

First responders will also learn about the Cyanokit or Hydroxocobalamin, an effective and safe antidote for acute cyanide poisoning from fire smoke. In fact, it has saved the lives of several firefighters and civilians in the last two years.

"Clearly, this will be the most comprehensive live saving and behavior changing HCN training program that exists. In addition, as more first responders learn how to treat smoke inhalation with the Cyanokit, we anticipate a reduction in the number of civilian smoke inhalation deaths," said Shawn Longerich, executive director.

The program will officially launch at FDIC in March 2011.


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