Riverland Community College Hosts Regional Firefighter and Ems Training

The Fire Smoke Coalition will present two days of training to firefighters in Rochester, Minnesota which will conclude with a live burn practical that will unequivocally prove hydrogen cyanide is in today’s fire smoke; and, not just in big robust fires, but the little pan on the stove fire which are routine runs attended by firefighters every single day.  The training session is free to all firefighters in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.   

In fire smoke, hydrogen cyanide can be up to 35 times more toxic than carbon monoxide,[i] an underappreciated risk that can cause severe injury or death within minutes.[ii],[iii]  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.[iv]  What’s important for firefighters to understand is that hydrogen cyanide chronic or acute inhalation, absorption or ingestion can have immediate or long-term effects on the heart and brain.  As a presumptive state for heart and respiratory impairment and disease, every fire department should embrace this training as a means of either preventing further exposure to seasoned firefighters or preventing it all together. This training will provide the tools to insure departments understand just how to prevent the exposure.

In the United States, residential fires are the third leading cause of fatal injury and the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury and death, yet the majority of fire-related fatalities are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation.  Despite the number of fires in the U.S. decreasing each year, the amount of civilians dying in fires is actually increasing. In 2009 the number of fires decreased by 7.1 percent, but civilian fire deaths increased 9.3 percent.[v]  Which begs the question, “Why?” said Shawn Longerich, executive director of the Coalition. “It stands to reason that if fire smoke is more deadly than ever before, then escaping the smoke – not the fire – is the key to survival for civilians — and for firefighters — protection from exposure during overhaul activities is key to healthy survival.”

In today’s smoke-filled environments, it’s not about how much you can stand, it’s about how little will kill you,” said Chief Rob Schnepp, Alameda County (CA) Fire and lead instructor for the Know Your Smoke training program.  This free training session will teach firefighters about the complexities of the combustion process during which numerous gases and toxicants are produced, most especially Hydrogen Cyanide and Carbon Monoxide, known as the Toxic Twins for the synergistic and deadly impact to the body; how to prevent smoke exposure and, most important to the communities they serve, how pre-hospital treatment of the smoke inhalation victim must include the consideration for cyanide exposure or poisoning. 

“Riverland Community College is honored to sponsor this regional program for first responders.  This is a critical issue in the fire service, most especially as it relates to firefighter safety and healthy survival and protecting the communities we serve,” said Brian Staska, Fire Training Program Manager.  In addition, the Minnesota EMSRB will provide 10 CEU’s to attendees.

This 2-day training session,“Know Your Smoke: The Dangers of Fire Smoke Exposure” will be held on November 3-4, 2012 in Rochester, MN at the Rochester International Event Center.  Registration is simple, click here.

For more information, please visit www.FireSmoke.org.

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