February 21, 2020

Carbon monoxide sends two workers to hospital

Observer staff report

The Williston Fire Department is reminding residents of the dangers of carbon monoxide after two contractors working in Williston were brought to the hospital earlier this month after being exposed to high carbon monoxide levels.

On March 12, just after 2 p.m., the Williston Fire Department went to Michael Lane. Firefighters arrived to find two contractors who had been working on a home. One worker was feeling dizzy and nauseous with what was described as “flu-like symptoms,” while the other worker was barely responsive, according to Firefighter Prescott Nadeau.

Rescue personnel immediately provided medical care to both workers while a second ambulance was dispatched. Meanwhile, firefighters investigating the home discovered that there was more than 150 parts per million of carbon monoxide present on multiple levels of the home. Both patients were transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center with potentially life-threatening injuries.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by incomplete burning of certain fuels or equipment powered by internal combustion engines. Most people will not experience any symptoms from prolonged exposure to CO levels of approximately 1 to 70 ppm, according to the U.S. Consumer Produce Safety Commission. Sustained concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm can cause disorientation, unconsciousness and death.

Fire crews discovered that contractors were using a concrete finishing machine and a propane heater in the basement. Working with the State Fire Marshal, they determined that the concrete finishing machine was faulty and emitting large quantities of carbon monoxide into the area.

“The combination of faulty equipment and inadequate ventilation made for a close call for the two workers involved,” Nadeau wrote in a press release.

According to the Williston Fire Department, proper detection in the home means at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of a house. Also, residents should never use fueled appliances or equipment (such as propane or salamander heaters, generators, etc.) indoors and ensure adequate ventilation, if using them in enclosed spaces such as a shed or garage.

Essex Rescue also provided an ambulance. There is no word on the current condition of the workers and the investigation is ongoing.

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