Health & Safety

Fire Smoke Coalition: Concern Over ‘New” Cyanide Poisoning Antidote

By Shawn Longerich

Hope Pharmaceuticals launched a Web site promoting a “new” cyanide poisoning antidote. Although the drugs contained within the antidote are not new, (Sodium Thiosulfate and Sodium Nitrite), there is concern that the new topic of cyanide poisoning related to fire smoke, will or could most certainly confuse first responders or physicians attempting to decide which antidote to purchase or administer. 

For years many hospitals have stocked the CAK (Cyanide Antidote Kit) for cyanide poisoning for industrial exposures, suicide attempts, etc. In one particular instance, a firefighter was transported to the ER for smoke inhalation. When the EMS Chief suggested to the ER physician the firefighter may have been exposed to cyanide in the smoke, the doctor unknowingly prescribed the CAK. Fortunately, the EMS Chief knew enough to inform the doctor that it could be harmful.  Unfortunately the hospital did not stock another antidote, but the fire department had Hydroxocobalamin in stock and immediately transported it to the ER. The firefighter lived.

With the number of ER physicians and hospitals completely unaware of cyanide toxicity or poisoning related to fire smoke, or even more dangerous, doctors with just a little bit of knowledge on the topic, we hope you will share these FAQs with your local emergency room physicians and/or medical directors.

The Fire Smoke Coalition’s primary objective is to insure our first responders have all of the information they need to treat their own and the civilians they are sworn to protect. In doing so, the primary objective for the Coalition at this juncture and on this topic, is to measure the knowledge base as it relates to cyanide antidotes. To accomplish this task, we have created a 4 question survey (CLICK HERE) we hope you will participate in. Outcomes will help us create and disseminate targeted educational programs – specifically for you.

For those requiring more information or training on the topic of smoke inhalation,we encourage you to download Aftermath and share it with your local medical community. Additionally, the Coalition is hosting its last Smoke Symposium (this is not about reading smoke, it’s about understanding today’s fire smoke and how to prevent exposure), in Fort Wayne, Indiana in September. For more details, go to http://www.firesmoke.org