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Monday, January 23, 2017

Carbon Monoxide and First Responders (a guest post by LMCIT Senior Loss Control Consultant Joe Ingebrand, CSP)

Guest blogger/LMCIT Senior
Loss Control Consultant
Joe Ingebrand, CSP
When you’re saving others, don’t forget to protect yourself!

In a small, rural Minnesota community, a woman returns home to find her husband unresponsive. She calls 911. Ambulance, law enforcement, and fire department personnel respond to the scene inside the garage. When it’s over, the husband is deceased, and the woman—along with seven EMS staff—have been exposed and are being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

This serves as a reminder to emergency personnel that while you can never know what you may be confronted with at the scene, being prepared with effective and functioning safety equipment can help to ensure the safety of the citizens you serve and yourself.
Most fire departments own (or have access to) a 4-gas meter needed to respond to confined space entry accidents and potential exposure to carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, oxygen deficiency, and flammable environments. While these meters are effective, they are relatively expensive (about $2,000) and need frequent calibration and service to remain effective. Some fire departments have partnered with the city’s public works department in the purchasing of a 4-gas meter, since both departments’ use of the meter is infrequent.

There are also single-gas CO-monitors available for around $300. Some fire departments will carry them on their EMS truck to use during EMS calls, especially in the winter months when these types of calls are more frequent.

MNOSHA Safety Grants

To defray the cost of employee safety equipment—including these aforementioned gas detection meters—Minnesota OSHA has matching safety grants available to cities and all Minnesota employers.

For additional information on preparing and responding to calls associated with carbon monoxide, see the links listed below from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Fuel Gas Code Handbook. After all, preparation is the key to safe and effective emergency response.

Up next: Police Use a Table-Top Exercise to Discuss Responding to a Check-the-Welfare Call

Stay safe,

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