In April and May, PF&R firefighters received a two-part training on treating burn victims. Portland Firefighters are certified as EMT-Basics and over 150 firefighters are certified as Paramedics. All Firefighter EMT’s receive 24 hours of mandatory recertification training bi-annually; Paramedics receive a minimum of 48 hours.
Curtis Ryun, a Registered Nurse with the Emanuel Hospital Burn Center, provided firefighters with a full circle view of how burn patients are treated from the time of initial response to long-term treatment in the Burn Center. In addition to an overview of the Burn Center, this training provided a refresher on how to recognize and treat common types of burns in patients and assess their severity.
Over 1 million people are burned each year. Of these, 650,000 will seek medical treatment and 75,000 will be hospitalized. Because 85% of these burns happen in or around the home, it is important to be aware of common burn hazards around the house.
The Emanuel Burn Center has been the sole facility to treat burns in Oregon for over 37 years and in addition to serving Oregon, also serves SW Washington, Southern Idaho, and parts of Northern California. This partnership is important because at PF&R, we know that the burn victims we treat will be transported directly to this facility for further treatment.
The second part of the training involved hands-on education for firefighters about a treatment option for cyanide poisoning (CN) called a Cyanokit. Since smoke inhalation is the most common source of exposure to cyanide poisoning (CN), having an antidote available for rapid, pre-hospital treatment may help save lives.
Although carbon monoxide (CO) is the usual focus, hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in fire smoke may be a significant contributing factor in approximately 4,000 fire-related deaths and more than 20,000 injuries in the United States each year.
When hydrogen cyanide is inhaled, it quickly enters the bloodstream through the lungs, rapidly enters cells, and prevents the cells from using oxygen. The brain and the heart are most vulnerable to the effects of cyanide poisoning because they are most dependent on oxygen to function properly. For inhalation or ingestion of large doses, treatment must be instituted as quickly as possible.
Cyanokits are designed specifically to be used on the scene or at the hospital for patients with known or suspected acute cyanide (CN) poisoning from smoke inhalation or any other source. The active ingredient is hydroxocobalamin, which forms a strong bond with cyanide, converting it to Vitamin B12, which can then be safely excreted from the body.
EMS Specialist Rene Pizzo led a demonstration for firefighters on how to administer the Cyanokit to patients. Cyanokits are now carried by all PF&R Battalion Chiefs for use by companies in treating cyanide poisoning victims at fire scenes.
The burn treatment training was utilized at two fires within days by Station 8 (serving the Arbor Lodge, Kenton, Piedmont, and Sunderland neighborhoods) and Station 19 (serving the Center, Mt. Tabor, Montavilla, and Madison South neighborhoods) firefighters.
Portland Fire & Rescue We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
June 8, 2010