Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Wed04162014

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Back Local News Poison emergency hotline available on Guam

Poison emergency hotline available on Guam

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DUE to the presence of toxic substances that abound in every household, accidental poisoning is not a rare possibility. Keep your panic under control. Call the hotline that can save a life: 1-800-222-1222.

Sandy Giffin, director of the Poison Center for Oregon, Alaska and Guam, said the toll-free number is open round-the-clock seven days a week to provide long-distance emergency treatment guidance from licensed healthcare providers trained in toxicology.

The poison center received a total of 312 calls from Guam in 2012, according to statistics. 

A number of cases were the result of exposure to household substances including pesticides, cleaning products and cosmetics. Others involved food and drug poisoning, with the highest number attributed to analgesics. Of the 67 cases of analgesic poisoning, two resulted in deaths.

Except for the two analgesic-related deaths, all poisoning cases called into the center were successfully treated at home and healthcare facilities, Giffin said.

Giffin was the key speaker at the Guam Poison Control Conference hosted yesterday by the Department of Public Health and Social Services through the federally funded Guam Emergency Medical Services for Children Program.

Roma Basa, program coordinator for the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program, said the conference held at the Marriott Resort & Spa was designed to provide the community with information about emergency response assistance.

Participants included fire fighters, school nurses, social workers, counselors and healthcare providers.

Regional centers

The Oregon Poison Center is one of the 57 regional centers that provide comprehensive toxicology service for the entire U.S. population.

Giffin said each center serves a population of at least 1 million to generate a call volume which maintains staff expertise.

“Poison centers and 911 dispatch centers only access points to emergency medical services throughout the country with universal telephone access mandated through a single nationwide phone number,” Giffin said.

She said each center receives calls every eight seconds every day. “Every 90 seconds, a healthcare professional consults a poison center for crucial information about poisonings,” she added.

Brown tree snakes

According to the Oregon Poison Center’s fact sheet, Guam is also vulnerable to poisoning from brown tree snake bites.

The center recorded 446 cases of snake bites between 1987 and 2004 with no reported deaths.

“The brown tree name does not lose its predatory abilities. Its main mechanism of predation seems to be constriction with the venom serving a digestive role,” the fact sheet states.

The center said signs and symptoms following bites include bleb formation, local swelling with proximal limb progression, nausea, vomiting, altered mental status, spastic movement, muscle or generalized weakness and respiratory arrest.

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