NEWS

CHEMM-IST to help First Responders Diagnose Chemical Exposure

By Carlton Purvis

It breaks syndromes down into four categories, including "knockdown syndrome," which commonly causes unconsciousness after exposure to blood agents like cyanide or hydrogen sulfide, and "pesticide syndrome," which can cause eye pain and seizures after exposure to pesticides or nerve agents. The other categories are "acute solvent syndrome," which causes headaches, confusion, and light headedness after exposure to chemical agents, used paint thinners, and solvents, and "irritant gas syndrome," which commonly causes ear, nose, and throat irritation after exposure to choking agents like chlorine, hydrochloric acid, and pepper spray.

For each syndrome, CHEMM-IST provides links to detailed information about each class of chemical agents, additional symptoms to expect, patient first aid, and suggested personnel protective equipment.

CHEMM-IST has been in development since late 2008 and was released in June.

"What we're doing now is conveining various working groups and actually doing testing with the user community, first responders, to test their ability to use the tool and to make sure the alogrithims are accurate and predictive, and to make sure the tool is set up to be usable in those first few minutes when you really need it," Korener said. 

The tool is projected to be validated and ready for use by the end of next year. The final version of CHEMM-IST will be accesible via smartphone in the field.

"CHEMM-IST is really a first of its kind," Koerner said. "There's never been an approach to looking at emergency response like this. Normal procedure is to try and identify the chemical to the best of our ability while casualties are already moving through the emergency medical system. A lot of your confirmation of what the material is can lag behind the medical management that is required for a specific toxilogical syndrome."

Using CHEMM-IST, Koerner hopes first responders can save more lives by reducing the time it takes to find out what caused the conditon and began the neccesary treatment.
 


photo by Georgia National Guard/flickr

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