OSWEGO - On average, each year over 3,000 Americans die and over 14,000 are injured related to injuries sustained from fires in the United States. Only up until recently has the medical community understood the consequences of cyanide poisoning associated with building fires and the need to address this potential threat. The most common cause of death in fires is the inhalation of noxious gases rather than thermal injury. Hydrogen cyanide gas, the most toxic product of combustion, seldom is recognized as a significant hazard in smoke inhalation. Even the most heroic efforts are ineffective if life-saving oxygen is blocked from the cells by cyanide.
One of the challenges with cyanide poisoning is that it is hard to measure in a victim, the other and most likely the issue more agencies do not carry the antidote is the $1,000 per dose cost.
Oswego Firefighters have recognized the threat to the community and have been able to overcome the high cost by leveraging State Grant programs there by opening up the life-saving treatment to agencies such as the Syracuse Fire Department, Oswego County Fire and Madison County Fire.
Up until now responders had to rely on getting the victim to the hospital for treatment prior to victims receiving the benefits of the antidote. Now victims of building fires and hazardous materials incidents can experience the benefits of this skill immediately resulting in more lives saved.
City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said “offering this life saving capability can make all the difference when trying to save someone’s life and gives our fire department the tools they need to best respond to such emergencies. This is just another example of how the Oswego Fire Department leads the industry in finding innovative solutions to challenges that results in lives saved and offers the best protection to City of Oswego residents,” Barlow said.