The event will be hosted by Hickory North Carolina Fire Department and will take place at the Catawba Community College. It will provide free training focused on preventing fire smoke exposure, how to detect toxicants in every fire scene and how to appropriately treat the exposure if it occurs. Interested parties can register for this event through www.FireSmoke.org.
The “Know Your Smoke” event will educate firefighters and first responders on their effective use to avoid the dangerous health effects of smoke inhalation. Leading experts on hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and carbon monoxide (CO) smoke toxicology will speak in a classroom setting.
“This free training will equip North Carolina firefighters and first responders with the safety and medical information they need to safely work tactical fireground operations for self-protection and as important, how to appropriately treat smoke inhalation victims in their communities,” said Shawn Longerich, executive director of the Fire Smoke Coalition.
The “Know Your Smoke” event offers invaluable education on occupational safety and the dangerous health effects of smoke exposure. Focus areas include the following:
· Fire Smoke: Perceptions, Myths and Misunderstandings
· Air Management and NFPA 1404
· Atmospheric Monitoring for HCN/CO – The Toxic Twins
· Pre-hospital HCN Assessment and Antidotal Treatment
· Proper usage of toxic gas monitoring systems, with a focus on HCN and CO
Smoke-related Injuries Increase
In the United States, residential fires are the third leading cause of fatal injury and the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury death, yet the majority of fire-related fatalities are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. Despite the amount of fires in the U.S. decreasing each year, the amount of civilians dying in fires is actually increasing. For example, in 2009, 1,348,500 fires were attended by public fire departments, a decrease of 7.1 percent from the year before; however, 3,010 civilian fire deaths occurred, which is an increase of 9.3 percent.[i]
In fire smoke, hydrogen cyanide can be up to 35 times more toxic than carbon monoxide,[ii] an underappreciated risk that can cause severe injury or death within minutes.[iii],[iv] In a review of major fires over a 19-year period, cyanide was found at toxic-to-lethal levels in the blood of approximately 33 percent to 87 percent of fatalities.[v]
“More education is needed regarding the dangers of smoke inhalation and most important – how to treat it as a significant illness. Throughout this country firefighters are dropping dead from heart attacks and cancers in large part due to the toxicants and soot inhaled from fire smoke throughout their careers,” added Longerich. “For civilians it’s even worse and statistics substantiate that fact. We know all smoke inhalation victims cannot be saved. But we also know that if cyanide is not considered as a toxicant in the face of smoke inhalation, and the appropriate cyanide antidote administered, we’ll never know whether that patient could have survived.”
Learn More, See More
· Watch a short video to learn more about the Fire Smoke Symposium
About Fire Smoke Coalition
The Fire Smoke Coalition is comprised of leaders in the fire service. The mission of the Fire Smoke Coalition is to focus the required attention and resources on the deadly and life-long consequences of breathing fire smoke by teaching firefighters and first responders how to Prevent, Protect, Detect, Diagnose, and appropriately treat the exposure if it occurs. Learn more at www.firesmoke.org.
[i] United States Fire Administration; Fire Loss in the United States in 2009; Michael J. Karter.
[ii] Tuovinen H, Blomqvist P. Modeling of hydrogen cyanide formation in room fires. Brandforsk project 321-011. SP Report 2003:10. Böras, Sweden: SP Swedish National Testing and Research Institute; 2003.
[iii] Guidotti T. Acute cyanide poisoning in prehospital care: new challenges, new tools for intervention. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2006;21(2):S40-S48.
[iv] Eckstein M, Maniscalco PM. Focus on smoke inhalation – the most common cause of acute cyanide poisoning. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2006;21(2):S49-S55.
[v] Alarie Y. Toxicity of fire smoke. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2002;32(4):259-289.