The Carbon monoxide (CO) gas meters Polk County Fire Rescue purchased in May for all first out response vehicles have proven to be very useful for crews, especially since many people were using generators after Hurricane Irma went through the county. Last spring, the Polk County Board of County Commissioners gave the fire rescue division permission to spend about $1 million on new equipment. Approximately $15,500 was used to purchase the Honeywell BW Technologies single gas CO meters.
“We began placing them in service in July and the project was completed in August,” said Captain Todd Tanner, special operations commander.
The meter is attached to cardiac monitors or medical bags the crews carry with them when they assist a patient. Should the CO meter encounter the colourless, odourless and tasteless gas while the crews work inside a structure, the meter will start flashing and an audible alarm will sound. This may save the life of the patient, others in the area and first responders. If the meter detects CO, the fire rescue crew will evacuate the building and request the assistance from a special operations unit. The special operations unit will conduct a more thorough air monitoring process and locate the source of the CO.
In mid-September, crews who responded to a home in Polk City ended up transporting two people to the hospital because they were showing signs of CO illness. They were using a generator to power the home because electricity wasn’t yet restored following Hurricane Irma. Later that day, the same crew responded to a medical call. As firefighters were loading the patient, they noticed the home across the street was using a generator near the front door of the home. The meter went off as crews approached the home, and 107 ppm of CO was detected. As the immediate area was evacuated, crews were informed the next door neighbour was disabled and not able to answer the door. Thankfully the neighbour had a key so firefighters were able to access the home. The reading inside that home was 75 ppm.
Within a two week period following Hurricane Irma, Polk County Fire Rescue was dispatched to approximately 20 CO-related calls. One was a 7-year-old girl, who passed away. When firefighters arrived at the home, a generator was being used inside the home with dangerous levels also recorded in the neighbouring duplex.
Polk County Fire Rescue: www.polk-county.net/fire-rescue
Honeywell BW Technologies: www.honeywellanalytics.com