Small device gives fire victims 50 percent higher chance of surv - WSMV Channel 4

Small device gives fire victims 50 percent higher chance of survival

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A small device is giving local fire victims a 50 percent higher chance of survival.

It was introduced to a team of hospital personnel, first responders, and firefighters Tuesday evening in Chattanooga and will soon be put to work in the Tennessee Valley.

"We've gotten kind of through the loss of everything and they've started to rebuild on the house," said Rob Campbell.

It's been six months since an electrical fire destroyed a home on Van Buren Drive. Rob Campbell's parents survived, but his 95-year-old grandfather, Z.M. Tussey, did not.

"They thought he was out, but when they went to look for him he still wasn't. So, they tried to go back in but it was so hot nobody could make it in," said Campbell.

Tussey died from smoke inhalation, which accounts for the majority of fire-related deaths.

The Chattanooga Fire Department is hoping to change that

It usually takes about 20 to 30 seconds to get a reading using this little device.

It measures the amount of carbon monoxide in a patient's body.

A reading over 10 prompts immediate treatment.

Until now, first responders had no way to tell on the scene if someone needed treatment. That was left up to a hospital.

Now a smoke inhalation victim has a better chance of survival.

"Their survivability could be up as high as 50 percent by a quick, rapid treatment," said Chief Daniel Hague, Tactical Services.

But it's not only fire victims who will benefit.

Ted Piper says 50 percent of firefighters nationwide die from heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

"Firefighters who have been fighting fires for 10, 15, 20 years may have had that small inhalation somewhere down the line, where it's already done some damage to their heart," said Ted Piper, Regional Sales Manager.

Now a quick reading after every fire battle will get firefighters the treatment they need, when they need it.

It's technology Rob Campbell says wouldn't have saved his grandfather, but would have made a difference in the lives of his parents.

"My father was going through lung cancer treatment at the time, so anything that could have helped us know a little bit more about what was going on in his body would have been helpful," said Campbell.

The technology has been around since 2005, but this is the first time it's been made available to some agencies in our area.

Likely because of the cost. One device costs about $5,000. The equipment is being distributed to emergency departments and ems units across a 10 county region, paid for through a grant money.

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