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Carbon monoxide monitors and well-trained paramedics save the day

The right equipment and the right training meant that two Kelowna-area paramedics got everyone out of an Okanagan home alive last month.
Paramedic Brad Fraser wears a carbon monoxide detector on his uniform
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​Paramedic Brad Fraser wears a carbon monoxide detector on his uniform.

The two paramedics were at the home in early August responding to an urgent call for an unconscious patient.

Paramedic Brad Fraser says he and his partner, Ryan Oxford, first noticed a haze in the house. “One of the other residents looked bothered. I asked if they were OK and the resident complained of a headache. All of a sudden my CO monitor and my partner's CO monitor started screaming.”

Fraser and Oxford quickly realized the home was full of deadly carbon monoxide. They needed to get everyone out immediately – themselves, the patient, the residents and the three fire fighters who had also responded to the call. 

Fraser says he picked up his patient in his arms as he headed for the door and told everyone else to leave – “NOW!” 

BCEHS paramedics take training known as the High Risk Hazards course, to ensure that they can take all information at a scene into account, including potential toxins, weapons or other unsafe conditions.

Since 2017, all ambulance kits have contained carbon monoxide monitors, and the investment is clearly paying off.

Carbon monoxide is a very difficult gas to detect without equipment. You can’t smell it, taste it or see it. When inhaled, it can interfere with the blood’s ability to absorb and transport oxygen. If undetected, it can reach deadly levels.

Thanks to Fraser and Oxford and their CO monitors, everyone got out safely. Two more ambulances were called that day to care for and transport patients.

“These detectors will continue to help save lives,” says BCEHS Clinical Operations Manager Rene Bernklau, the lead technical advisor in the organization’s decision to invest in the CO detecting devices. 

Fraser agrees. “The CO monitors saved the day.”

BC Ambulance Service; BCEHS; patient care
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