Five Patients Transported Following Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Sunday, March 15, 2009 - 10:02am

City of Madison Fire Department paramedics transported a total of five people to hospitals today after they were exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide during church services at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1123 Vilas Avenue.

The first indication that there was a problem came at 11:01 a.m. when paramedics were called to attend to a 2-year-old child who was reported to be groggy and lethargic. The parents of the child decided to transport the child to the hospital on their own.

At 12:37 p.m. a second call came in from the church reporting several people that were feeling ill. Engine Company 4 responded, bringing along monitors to check air quality at the church.

The alarms on the monitors sounded as soon as crews stepped inside the door.

CO readings showed more than 3,000 parts per million (ppm), more than 100 times the amount at which CO concentrations are determined to be unsafe.

Five more patients were transported. Medic 1 transported one patient to UW Hospitals. Four other patients were transported to nearby St. Mary's Hospital.

The Department's Hazardous Incident Team was called to the scene to manage the air quality. Crews ventilated the building with positive pressure fans for an hour and a half to clear the building of the lingering concentrations of CO.

MGE representatives were at the scene to turn off gas to the building.

Often referred to as the silent killer because you can't see, smell or taste it, CO is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the U.S., killing 500 people each year and sending more than 15,000 people to emergency rooms. It is a by-product of incomplete combustion that can be produced by stoves, water heaters, fireplaces, cars, gas grills and a number of other appliances used in homes. Children and the elderly are most susceptible.

  • Lori Wirth, 608-266-5947