IAFF Advocates Screening Firefighters for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Using Pulse CO-Oximetry
Union believes many cardiac arrests experienced by fire fighters may be attributable to CO exposure
IRVINE, Calif. — Masimo, the inventor of Pulse CO-Oximetry and Read-Through Motion and Low Perfusion pulse oximetry, today announced that the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has issued education materials to more than 3,000 local union presidents in the United States and Canada calling for routine carbon monoxide (CO) screening using a Pulse CO-Oximeter for all fire fighters potentially exposed to CO. The IAFF, representing more than 287,000 full-time, professional fire fighters and emergency medical personnel who protect 85 percent of the nation's population, is the primary advocate for providing fire fighters and paramedics with the tools they need to perform their jobs, including implementation of new training programs and equipment.
In a letter to all local union presidents in North America, the IAFF highlighted the need for a new protocol whereby any fire fighter potentially exposed to CO and presenting with headache, nausea, shortness of breath, or gastrointestinal symptoms should be assessed using a Pulse CO-Oximeter. IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger acknowledged the prevalence, severity and frequency of the detrimental effects of CO. "We believe that many of the cardiac arrests fire fighters are experiencing may well be attributable to CO exposure," President Schaitberger said.
Because CO is present in every fire and its symptoms are nonspecific and easy to miss, the dangers of acute and prolonged CO poisoning are more pronounced for fire fighters. According to the IAFF, the risk of prolonged CO exposure during 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 Canada.
The National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE) issued similar guidance to its membership recommending that EMS professionals "screen patients for carbon monoxide poisoning that have had a suspected exposure, or present with any of the signs or symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning." These two organizations are examples of a growing trend with industry-leading emergency services associations converging toward a new standard of care for the proactive screening of CO-exposed patients and emergency services personnel by Pulse CO-Oximetry.
Joe E. Kiani, Chairman and CEO of Masimo, stated, "Firefighters and EMS personnel are among our greatest heroes. They fight tirelessly to save our lives, homes, property and land from the ravages of fire -- often sacrificing their own lives and health in the process. The Masimo Rad-57 Pulse CO-Oximeter was designed with saving lives and preserving health in mind. We applaud IAFF for taking this proactive step to ensure the health and well-being of the heroes who care for us all."
Masimo (NASDAQ:MASI) develops innovative monitoring technologies that significantly improve patient care -- helping solve "unsolvable" problems. In 1995, the company debuted Read-Through Motion and Low Perfusion pulse oximetry, known as Masimo SET, and with it virtually eliminated false alarms and increased pulse oximetry's ability to detect life-threatening events. More than 100 independent and objective studies have confirmed that Masimo SET technology allows clinicians to accurately monitor blood oxygen saturation in critical care situations. Our Masimo SET platform has significantly addressed many of the previous technology limitations, has substantially contributed to improved patient outcomes and has been referred to by several industry sources as the gold standard in pulse oximetry. In 2005, Masimo introduced Masimo Rainbow SET Pulse CO-Oximetry, which, for the first time, noninvasively monitors the level of carbon monoxide and methemoglobin in the blood, allowing early detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening conditions. Founded in 1989, Masimo has the mission of "Improving Patient Outcomes and Reducing Cost of Care by Taking Noninvasive Monitoring to New Sites and Applications." Additional information about Masimo and its products may be found at http://www.masimo.com/.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release may include forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations about future events affecting us and are subject to uncertainties and factors, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control, including: risks related to our assumption that the Masimo Rad-57 Pulse CO-Oximeter will deliver a sufficient level of clinical improvement over alternative devices to allow for rapid adoption of the technology, and other factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 29, 2007, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 1, 2007. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in our forward-looking statements are reasonable, we do not know whether our expectations will prove correct. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. We do not undertake any obligation to update, amend or clarify these forward-looking statements or the risk factors contained in our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 29, 2007, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required under the federal securities laws.
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- Carbon Monoxide