Roanoke County paramedics credit a carbon monoxide detector with discovering high levels of the dangerous gas in an apartment building.
Paramedics were called to the Villages at Garst Creek apartments Friday morning on a report of a sick person, according to officials. When they walked into the apartment, the alarm on their carbon monoxide monitor started sounding.
According to Captain Brandon King, they evacuated the building and checked other apartments. Some of the apartments had about four times the normal level of carbon monoxide in the air, he said.
“Firefighter safety is very important, and it paid off today,” King said. “It helped my two crew members get through [what] is a very potentially dangerous situation, and it also helped us get answers to treat the patient rapidly.”
“They have so many symptoms that are common with other ailments,” said Craig Robertson, battalion chief for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue. “He could have easily been diagnosed or suspected to have something like the flu.”
Since this past spring, every paramedic in the department has one of the monitors with them when responding to a call, Robertson said. Crews also carry other devices, which monitor the amount of carbon monoxide in a patient’s blood, he added.
“The quickest thing to do is just get outside,” Robertson said. “That’s what we did with the patient this morning – just immediately got them outside. That is the first step in our treatment.”
Robertson said he did not hear any carbon monoxide detectors sounding at the apartment building they were called to Friday. Luckily, he said, the carbon monoxide leak was found and stopped, and everyone got out of the building safely.
Robertson suggests having a carbon monoxide detector in your home, especially if you have propane or natural gas appliances. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, nausea and confusion, he added.