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Off-Duty Firefighter Recognizes Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Saves 30 In A Restaurant

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An off-duty firefighter was at a dinner party when he sensed signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, and called the fire station to ask for help as soon as possible. The man's perspicacity saved 30 people from intoxication.

The incident happened Dec. 10 in Clemmons, North Carolina, and the firefighter and his friends were out celebrating.

Off-Duty Firefighter Saves 30

Lonnie Wimmer, who was off-duty, noticed that people were starting to feel nauseous and complain about headaches. Some of the people around him were having chest pains, which immediately led him to the thought of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fire officials came to the restaurant and evacuated 30 people, 16 of which were transported to local hospitals with signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

John Edwards, the owner of the restaurant where the incident took place, could not be contacted. However, his reaction was appreciative toward the firefighter's action.

"You know, [the restaurant patrons] were appreciative. They didn't know what was going on. If he had not been there no one would have ever known that something was wrong for some time," noted Steve Williams, assistant fire chief for the department.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning — Alarming Rates

Every year in the United States, more than 400 deaths are attributed to CO poisoning that is not linked to fire, 10 times more this number are hospitalized and more than 20,000 get to the emergency room for the same cause.

Among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation, having appliances such as heating system and water heaters serviced by a qualified technician is the first. The revision should be done every year, in order to ensure preventing possible accidents.

Additionally, there are battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors, which people can install in their homes in order to make sure the odorless, colorless gas is identified before causing any poisoning. In the event that you suspect any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, seeking medical attention is the immediate thing you should do, along with calling 911 to report a possible emergency.

"CO is truly the 'silent killer' because you can't detect it — you can't smell it. Or you wait until you start getting sick, flu-like symptoms. A lot of people will think they got the flu and not start getting treatment," added Williams.

There is a program developed by CDC dedicated to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, until an antidote will be available.

"This 1-hour web-based course is designed to enhance recognition and treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning, in both emergency and non-emergency situations, by clinical personnel. It is intended for emergency department clinical personnel and family and general practice providers," quotes the CDC page dedicated to the program.

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