Through the timely response and diligent efforts of Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services, Fire Crews responded and rescued two occupants of a home in Lac Ste. Anne County suffering from acute carbon monoxide poisoning in the early morning hours of January 14, 2018.
Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services, East Station received the dispatch call at 06:01 and responded at 06:05. Carbon monoxide was suspected, as the caller indicated they were unable to move. The incident took place at a home near Twp 535 and Rge Rd 20 in the County’s southeast, 14 minutes drive time from East Fire Station. AHS arrived on scene slightly ahead of Fire Services and informed County Dispatch that the CO monitors thrown into the entrance had immediately gone into alarm; thus, AHS did not enter. LSAC Fire Services arrived on scene at 6:19 and immediately sent in two firefighters with self contained breathing apparatus and found two semi-conscious victims on the floor of the master bedroom. These individuals were rescued and given to EMS.
The on-scene EMS supervisor indicated the respective blood gas counts of the victims - a man and a woman, were the highest in anyone he had encountered in living patients. The CO counts in the home measured by LSAC Fire Services and gas company monitors approached 800 ppm in parts of the home and 400 ppm in the bedroom; fatal with 2-3 hours of continuous exposure. Due to overnight sleeping in that environment, the victims are considered lucky to have survived, and extremely fortunate that one of them was able to dial 911. There were no carbon monoxide alarms in the home. The victims were transported to hospital in Edmonton and treated in a hyperbaric chamber. They are expected to make a full recovery.
The Gas company determined that the boiler (which had failed its last inspection) was the source of the carbon monoxide. It was also leaking raw natural gas, causing the gas air mixture to hit the lower explosive limit while it was being investigated, necessitating the evacuation of emergency service personnel and the gas employee from the home. LSAC Fire Services immediately shut the gas supply to the home off preventing any further issues.
LSAC East Station had 4 members overnight on shift enabling immediate response to this situation with support from incoming paid on call members as well. Firefighters Mackenzie Maidment and Josh Pare-White made the courageous rescue, supported by six additional firefighters and on-scene EMS personnel; all of whom are heroes.
This incident serves as a sobering reminder to have monitored carbon monoxide detectors in the home on every level, especially near sleeping areas (or at least battery-operated detectors for localized alarms). Gas operated cooking and heating appliances should also be checked and inspected regularly, and maintained in good working order. Lac Ste. Anne Fire Services offers carbon monoxide awareness programs and in-home inspections.
To take advantage of these free programs and inspections, please contact Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services at the main County Administration Office toll-free at 1.866.880.5722.