Spotlights the health consequences of unsuspected carbon monoxide poisoning during fire operations and urges firefighter/first responder protection and safety
Masimo (NASDAQ: MASI), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) recently announced the launch of “The Silent Killer” educational campaign aimed at raising awareness of the duty-related dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and reducing the known risk factors that unnecessarily kill or injure firefighters each year. This important new health and safety campaign includes a dramatic six-minute video that highlights the immediate and long-term health risks associated with CO exposure, the emotional impact these risks can have on firefighters and their families, and advocates proper prevention strategies. The video can be viewed online at www.thesilentkiller.net and DVDs will be widely distributed to fire departments throughout the world.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a danger at every fire, but this “Silent Killer” is often present without symptoms, making awareness, proper diagnosis, and treatment difficult.1 This puts firefighters on the scene of a fire at significant risk because even mild CO poisoning can rob the brain of oxygen,2 which can lead to poor decision making.3 CO can also rob the heart, brain, and vital organs of oxygen, causing life-threatening complications – a critical concern with half of on-duty firefighter deaths being attributed to heart attacks or stroke.4 Just one severe CO poisoning almost doubles the long-term risk of death.5
This new education campaign urges firefighters to take personal responsibility for their health and safety by recognizing the occupational hazards of CO exposure and wearing protective masks during both active fire and overhaul operations to prevent unnecessary risks. It also encourages firefighters to get their CO levels tested on the fire scene with an approved noninvasive portable device6 and, if elevated, to seek immediate treatment, even if they are feeling well.
The video was produced and narrated by Randolph Mantooth, widely recognized for his portrayal of Los Angeles County firefighter/paramedic “Johnny Gage” in the popular 1970s NBC Universal television series “Emergency!” Mantooth presented “The Silent Killer” video to the NVFC Board of Directors at its annual fall meeting in September. The NVFC supports the campaign and is assisting with promotion and awareness.
“Too many of our fire rescuers and first responders do not believe they too are in danger and, consequently, do not adequately protect themselves from becoming unknowing victims of CO poisoning,” said Mantooth, a vocal advocate for CO awareness and prevention since his own near-death CO experience 20 years ago. “That’s why it has become my mission to ensure that each and every firefighter and emergency first responder knows and understands these significant occupational hazards, how to properly protect themselves, and how to prevent unnecessary health risks to improve the odds that they will be around tomorrow to do what they were born to do.”
“The NVFC is proud to support this important campaign to prevent CO poisoning among first responders,” said Kenn Fontenot, Chair of the NVFC’s Health and Safety Committee. “First responders face many risks to their health, and CO poisoning is especially dangerous because it is so hard to detect. Full and proper use of personal protective equipment is one of the NVFC’s Health and Safety Priorities, and this means keeping your mask on the entire time you are in an area of possible exposure. The NVFC thanks Masimo for developing this campaign to educate and protect first responders from this very real danger.”
Masimo Founder and CEO, Joe Kiani, stated, “We are proud to have supported the development and dissemination of this educational material for firefighters and first responders. The ‘Silent Killer’ campaign is our opportunity to help save the lives of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday for each of us. We know that the more successful this campaign is in reaching and educating them about the hidden dangers and risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, the fewer of our heroes will become victims and have their lives shortened by carbon monoxide poisoning.”
The new web site, www.thesilentkiller.net, was specifically developed to help raise awareness among firefighters, first responders, emergency medical service personnel, and their friends and families about the unsuspected occupational dangers of CO poisoning and how best to protect themselves. Designed as a destination site for all emergency first responders, the “Silent Killer” web site features the new video along with a host of other important health and safety resources, including:
1 Hampson, NB, et al: “Carboxyhemoglobin levels in carbon monoxide poisoning: do they correlate with the clinical picture?” American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 26:665-669, 2008.
2 Bledsoe, BE: “The Perils of CO.” FireRescue Magazine. September 2005.
3 Jakubowski, G. The Invisible Incidents: How to respond to CO alarms. FireRescue Magazine. 22(11):52–55, 2004.
4 Bledsoe, BE. “The Dangers of CO: Understanding Cardiovascular Risks to Responders from CO Exposure.” Journal of Emergency Medical Service. 32:54-59, 2007.
5 Hampson, NB et al. “Increased long term mortality among survivors of acute carbon monoxide poisoning.” Crit Care Med. 2009; 37(6): 1941-47.
6 NFPA 1584: Standards on the Rehabilitation Process for Members During Emergency Operations and Training Exercise. Annex A section A.18.104.22.168(1)
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