Ulster County Mike Hein Announces Life-Saving Initiative To Support And Assist First Responders And Victims Of Smoke Inhalation

Posted September 7, 2017

The County Executive’s Model Program Will Provide Access To Life-Saving Medication At The Scene Of Structure Fires

Bloominton, N.Y. – With the Bloomington Fire Department as the backdrop and joined by representatives of fire and ambulance companies from across the County, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein unveiled an initiative that will provide access to life saving medication to our First Responders.  Ulster County Executive Mike Hein announced that Cyanokits will be present on County emergency vehicles that respond to the scene of a fire and will also be provided the kits to certified ambulance companies throughout the county.  Cyanokits are used to counteract the effects of cyanide poisoning as a result of smoke inhalation. 

Michael P. Hein, Ulster County Executive

“Our First Responders do a tremendous job of responding to emergencies and keeping all of us safe each and every day and I am proud to provide them a life-saving medication to assist in their mission,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.  “By providing access to Cyanokits at the scene of a fire we are dramatically improving the opportunity for recovery for anyone who has suffered smoke inhalation.  The public can rest assured that through the strong partnership of my administration and the emergency services throughout Ulster County we will do what is necessary to provide our First Responders with the tools they need to keep our residents safe.”

Peter Loughran, Ulster County Legislator

“These Cyanokits are an incredibly important life-saving tool for our first responders and possible victims of smoke inhalation, and during the discussion of providing access to these kits I wanted to make sure that the City of Kingston Fire Department was included  as well as the many brave volunteer departments throughout the county,” said Legislator Pete Loughran.  “I want to commend the County Executive for spearheading this initiative and thank him for helping protect the residents of the City of Kingston and our firefighters by providing access to this medication for the City of Kingston Fire Department.”

Dr. Carol Smith, Ulster County Commissioner of Health and Mental Health

"County Executive Hein's decision to make Cyanokits available to paramedics throughout Ulster County will help protect the lives of first responders, and all of those who work so hard to save the lives of others,” said Dr. Carol Smith, Ulster County Commissioner of Health and Mental Health.  “It is an added measure of safety and security that we are grateful to have in Ulster County."

Steve Peterson, Director of Ulster County Emergency Management/Services

“Access to Cyanokits has been on the list of needs of first responders for some time, and getting them has been, until now, undermined by the state regulatory framework and cost,” said Steve Peterson, Ulster County Director of Emergency Services.  “The County Executive has listened to the needs of the fire service and emergency medical service and gets things done.  He developed a plan that provides on scene access to life-saving medication that will dramatically increase the survival rate of any individual who suffers cyanide poisoning as a result of smoke inhalation at a structure fire.”

Everett Erichsen, Chairman of the Ulster County Fire Chiefs Association

"County Executive Mike Hein has once again demonstrated he is a strong supporter of the emergency services and the work we do," said Everett Erichsen, Chairman of the Ulster County Fire Chiefs Association.  "Being able to access Cyanokits in the field is an important resource as it may truly be the difference between life and death."

Richard Muellerleile, Ulster County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator

"Providing access to potentially life-saving Cyanokits in the field across the county is an incredible asset to both our citizens and responders, and I commend County Executive Hein for making it possible," said Richard Muellerleile, Ulster County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator.  "As a firefighter/ paramedic, I have seen firsthand the effects of cyanide poisoning as a result of smoke inhalation and this initiative will provide not only county-wide access to an important safety tool, but will help ensure that emergency medical service members have the best care options available to treat patients."

Cyanide gas can be released by virtually any material composed of nitrogen and carbon that is burned at high temperatures and low oxygen conditions.  When cyanide enters the body it prevents cells from utilizing oxygen and can result in cardiac or respiratory arrest.  Cyanokits, which contain the drug hydroxocobalamin, are administered intravenously by a paramedic and can counteract the effects of cyanide poisoning.  Administering Cyanokits in the field as opposed to waiting until the patient reaches a hospital greatly improves their chances of survival.

Pictured above: County Executive Hein at Bloomington Fire Department with First Responders