Below is a story I posted to "The 1st Battalion" Facebook page a few days ago. We write to a mixed audience, including many folks from the community, so please excuse the layperson language. I wanted to share it here because these little passive CO monitors work! My department chose the Protege CM- we have them wire-tied to every aide/BLS/jump bag in the department. Ours alarmed less than a minute after initial patient contact, at which point we very quickly removed the two residents and all fire/rescue personnel. An ALS 1st responder engine company with 4-person staffing was already on the scene with the EMS unit, so a primary search, natural ventilation, and utility control happened very quickly after removing the patients. A Battalion Chief, additional EMS unit, and Truck Company were added to the call early on as well, so transporting of both patients, mechanical ventilation, and a secondary search of the house occurred seamlessly.
Here's the post:
Over the past few decades, the fire and rescue service has invested a significant amount of training and education in the response to and management of Carbon Monoxide (CO) incidents.
This includes last year's implementation of passive CO meters that are attached to every EMS jump bag in the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) fleet.
Passive CO meters are essentially fine tuned and resilient versions of the CO detectors you might have in your home. Like these home versions, they remain on constantly and act as a sentinel, alarming first responders when CO is present where they might not expect it.
Recently, a passive CO monitor activation alerted responders of high levels of CO in a Takoma Park home. First Battalion units from Silver Spring and Takoma Park were alerted for a medical call. These units arrived and began assessing a patient exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Simultaneously, they noticed another occupant of the home exhibiting signs of difficulty breathing. And then the passive CO monitor went into alert.
Recognizing this as a true CO emergency, both occupants were rapidly removed from the residence, transferred to waiting EMS units, and transported to local Hospitals. Fire/rescue personnel not involved in patient care transitioned into search mode and donned their protective gear and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). A rapid, but thorough survey known as a “primary search” was initiated to ensure of no additional occupants. No additional occupants were found. Personnel monitored the atmosphere with multi-gas meters while searching, and found CO readings well over 700 Parts Per Million (PPM). Over a finite period of time, this level of CO can prove fatal.
While conducting a more thorough and methodical survey of the home known as a “secondary search,” personnel found the source of CO in the basement- a malfunctioning furnace. This appliance was secured by isolating power and gas from the home.
No MCFRS personnel were injured on this incident, and both occupants were expected to make a full recovery.
Prior to the addition of passive CO meters, there were several incidents where advanced care was delayed and fire/rescue personnel were unknowingly exposed to dangerous levels of CO. With the addition of these little red CO sentinels, such incidents are a thing of the past.