GRANITE FALLS, NC (March 24, 2017)…Grace Chapel Fire Department received a very generous donation from Shuford Yarns of Dudley Shoals to assist the department with purchasing lifesaving Industrial Science five gas monitoring devices. These new devices will help limit exposure of firefighters to Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN). HCN has been coined as one of the “Evil Twins” that firefighters encounter, the other being Carbon Monoxide. HCN is 35 times more toxic than CO.
Grace Chapel Fire Department Captain Travis Davenport has been heading up the purchase of these new devices. Davenport is a full-time City of Charlotte Firefighter and has experience with these devices. Chief Bryan Edwards and Captain Travis Davenport are very excited and thankful to be able to purchase these new life-saving devices. Grace Chapel Fire Department will be the first fire department in Caldwell County to utilize this technology.
“The Grace Chapel Fire Department is honored to announce the donation from Shuford Yarns presented to Captain Travis Davenport for the purchase of an Industrial Science five gas monitoring devices. This device is linked to state of the art technology that not only will be used to monitor IDLH environments but to limit exposure of firefighters to Hydrogen Cyanide. HCN has been linked to firefighter cancer at an increased rate. The devices will also allow incident commanders to monitor gas readings “real time” during use from the command post. Along with built in firefighter down features alerts other firefighters to change in environments. Not only are we honored but blessed to have industry and owners that give back to the community but care about the safety of the responders.”…as stated by the GCFD.
“Exposure to smaller concentrations can initially cause respiratory activation — manifested by rapid breathing and tachycardia — in an attempt to compensate for lack of oxygen. Early manifestations include headache, anxiety, blurry vision and loss of judgment. As cyanide accumulates further, signs and symptoms of poisoning reflect the effects of oxygen deprivation on the heart and brain. These include cardiac dysrhythmias, seizure, coma and death. The time between exposure and incapacitation or death is typically minutes, but varies depending on the concentration of cyanide and other toxicants.” — Obrien, DJ, Walsh, DW, Cyanide and Smoke Inhalation, 2010
Fire services personnel often think of carbon monoxide as the silent killer. More and more, however, research is pointing to HCN or hydrogen cyanide, as a second and equally hazardous threat. According to the CDC…Hydrogen cyanide (AC) is a systemic chemical asphyxiant. It interferes with the normal use of oxygen by nearly every organ of the body. Exposure to hydrogen cyanide (AC) can be rapidly fatal. It has whole-body (systemic) effects, particularly affecting those organ systems most sensitive to low oxygen levels: the central nervous system (brain), the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), and the pulmonary system (lungs). Hydrogen cyanide (AC) is a chemical warfare agent (military designation, AC). It is used commercially for fumigation, electroplating, mining, chemical synthesis, and the production of synthetic fibers, plastics, dyes, and pesticides. Hydrogen cyanide (AC) gas has a distinctive bitter almond odor (others describe a musty “old sneakers smell”), but a large proportion of people cannot detect it; the odor does not provide adequate warning of hazardous concentrations. It also has a bitter burning taste and is often used as a solution in water.
Below are some common symptoms associated with HCN poisoning.
Flushing of the skin/pink or red skin colour
Irregular or rapid heart beat
Difficulty breathing/respiratory arrest