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International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Advocates Screening Fire Fighters for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Using Pulse CO-Oximetry
Date:1/8/2008

a fire does not end once the fire is controlled. The "overhaul" phase of fire control, when fire fighters seek out and extinguish any remaining fires to eliminate rekindles and stabilize both the structure and scene, can be time consuming and expose firefighters to CO levels high enough to cause death or permanent impairment. Additionally, repeated or accumulated exposures present an even greater risk to fire fighters.

Even a single high level exposure, or prolonged exposure to low levels of CO, has the potential to cause long-term cardiac, neurocognitive and psychiatric damage. The long-term effects of CO -- including Parkinson-like syndromes affecting motor skills and speech, dementia, cortical blindness, acute renal failure, muscle cell death, and more -- can be devastating for fire fighters and their families.

According to Mike McEvoy, EMS Director, NYS Association of Fire Chiefs, "Two facts are widely known -- CO is the most common poison in the world today, and dead firefighters often have significantly elevated CO levels. The proactive use of the Pulse CO-Oximeter advocated by IAFF will help to ensure that no firefighters slip through the system with undetected CO poisoning in the line of duty."

The IAFF is the driving force behind nearly every advance in the fire and emergency services in the 20th century, from the introduction of shift schedules early in the last century to the enactment of SAFER in 2003. With recognized experts in the fields of occupational health and safety, fire-based emergency medical services and hazardous materials training, the IAFF has established professional standards for the North American Fire Service. In addition to city and county fire fighters and emergency medical personnel, the IAFF represents state employees, federal workers and fire and emergency medical workers employed at certain industrial facilities, including over 3,000 local unions in more than 3,500 communities throughout the United States and
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