Morphix Technologies has introduced the Chameleon chemical suicide detection kit that offers police, EMS and first responders a field-configurable, low-cost, easy-to-use, hands-free solution when encountering a chemical suicide, according to the company.
Photo: Morphix Technologies.
Chemical suicides have doubled in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period in 2012 in the U.S. So far, 72 deaths have been confirmed; of those, 27 having occurred in 2011. Chemical suicides are the result of mixing common household chemicals resulting in a toxic gas, most notably hydrogen sulfide. Combined in a confined area, the victim quickly asphyxiates. Unfortunately, for many first responders, and despite warnings posted by the victims, over 80 percent of police and first responders have been injured when responding to chemical suicides.
The most notable gas produced in chemical suicides is hydrogen sulfide. In low concentrations, hydrogen sulfide produces the common "rotten egg" smell. In higher concentrations, the chemical first affects the sense of smell by paralyzing the olfactory nerves, thus the victim no longer smells anything and neither will first response teams. Death results from pulmonary edema or respiratory failure.
Concentrations can be so high as to incite death in just one breath. Most victims have chosen an automobile as the location for the suicide act and by taping the surrounding gaps in the doors and vents and posting warning signs, think that toxic chemicals are well contained. The chemicals can vent outside the suicide area. Many first responders require medical attention and even long-term care after exposure.
The use of Chameleon detection kits by police, fire and first responders on service calls and as a part of their training program can provide an extra measure of safety and perhaps even save lives. Using the Chameleon can reduce liability, injury, time off and result in a reduction of costs by possibly preventing injuries.
The Chameleon is designed to easily fit the wearer's forearm and can be worn over most turn-out gear or level-A suits. The sensors change color when toxic gases are present and require no power source or calibration. Unlike current colorimetric detection systems, the Chameleon is designed to military standards for use in a wide variety of operating environments. It can used while immersed in water.
The Chameleon detects gases and vapors in the air; other technologies only detect hazards in liquid or aerosol forms. Gaseous forms of toxic chemicals are the most likely danger to first responders, police and fire personnel.
The Chameleon chemical suicide detection kit contains sensors for high pH (base), hydrogen sulfide, low pH (acid), phosphine, and sulfur dioxide.
Duty Dangers: Chemical Suicides