Rescue workers among 6 treated for carbon monoxide

April 10, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Four emergency personnel were among six people treated Wednesday night for carbon monoxide poisoning at a home on South Second Street, according to Emergency Services Chief Allen Baldwin.

The carbon monoxide was traced to a backed up flue pipe from a gas heater, officials said.

Two firefighters, an emergency medical technician and a paramedic were treated and released from Chambersburg Hospital at about 2 a.m., Baldwin said Thursday. The owner of the home, Mary E. Hull, and a visitor were taken to the hospital and the visitor was later flown to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.

Hull, of 136 S. Second St., was admitted for a day's observation, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Baldwin did not release the name of the woman flown to Geisinger, and no condition report was available from the hospital.

The incident at Hull's home began at 8:30 p.m. with a 911 call for a person suffering seizures, but it was almost an hour later when more firefighters and ambulances were called to the scene.


Vickie Negley, director of Chambersburg Area Advanced Life Support Services, said the woman treated for seizures "responded to oxygen and wanted to refuse care." That kept rescue workers inside the house trying to convince the woman to go to the hospital.

Negley said the ambulance crew members suffered from headaches and nausea, two early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Even after oxygen treatment, Negley said, they still had headaches. "It's very difficult to get the carbon monoxide to detach from the hemoglobin" in the blood, she said.

Although they became ill in the house, Negley said, "I'm very pleased with the crew." Had they allowed the first victim to refuse treatment and left, both women in the house could have died.

Baldwin identified the firefighters as Brian Shatzer and Patrick Martin. Negley said she could not give out the names of the EMT and paramedic without their permission.

Baldwin said department gas detectors measure up to 1,000 parts per million and levels in the basement exceeded that. Readings on the first floor ranged from about 250 to 500 parts per million, he said.

He said levels above 35 parts per million of the colorless, odorless gas are unhealthy.

Chambersburg Gas Superintendent Jim Crowley said an inspection of the home's heating system revealed that the chimney attached to the flue pipe was clogged with bird skeletons, nests, bricks, mortar and other debris.

Smoke detectors are required in borough homes, but not carbon monoxide detectors. Baldwin said the house did not have a carbon monoxide detector.

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