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Chief: Dix Hills firefighters save life with cyanide antidote

The Dix Hills Fire Department is seen on

The Dix Hills Fire Department is seen on Jan. 25, 2012. Credit: Alessandra Malito

The Dix Hills Fire Department recently made its first save with a cyanide antidote new to many fire departments on Long Island, Chief Robert Fling said.

"This is actually the first time in the history of the department that we pulled someone from a fire, resuscitated them from a point of not breathing and having no pulse, and they survived," Fling said Thursday. "And there's no doubt in my mind that this Cyanokit played a major, major role in that."

When trying to help victims of a fire recover, emergency responders typically administer oxygen. But people who have inhaled a large amount of smoke will have levels of hydrogen cyanide in their bloodstream, which prohibits the body from using oxygen, Fling said. The Cyanokit "reverses the effect and allows the body to absorb the oxygen," he said.

Cyanokit has been on the U.S. market since 2006, but adoption among fire departments has been somewhat slow, because it costs roughly $850 per dose.

Dix Hills has partnered with the East Northport, Commack and Greenlawn fire departments to purchase the antidote in bulk.

"It covers as much ground as possible," Fling said of the partnership. "It distributes the cost across the four districts. You usually don't use one dose of this medication. You have to give one dose rather quickly, then, if needed, you give another."

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