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A St. Paul carbon monoxide poisoning incident Monday required the hospitalization of 10 people in the same duplex, news services are reporting.
St. Paul Fire Department (SPFD) firefighters are being hailed as heroes for their quick actions. The symptoms and number of people sickened at the same location prompted firefighter Thad Michael Albert to deduce that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning might be the cause.
Firefighters used a fingertip monitor to test the amount of CO in the blood of the victims. Two people registered at least 45 percent, and all recorded at least 20 percent. A total of 60 percent is fatal.
“To make the call … was quite frankly what saved the lives of those people,” Deputy Chief Butch Inks told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
All 10 people, ranging in age from 13 months to 41, were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) for treatment. One firefighter, who was dizzy, was hospitalized as a precaution.
The SPFD found the highest CO levels in the duplex were 600 parts per million. Anything over 35 parts per million is considered dangerous. A faulty boiler was determined to be the cause.
CO detectors were missing or disabled in both units of the duplex. The building, located on Burr Street at Cook Avenue, has been condemned by the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections.
What is CO poisoning?
CO poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide – an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas – builds up in your bloodstream, according to the Mayo Clinic. When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide.
Without oxygen, cells throughout the body will begin dying, and the organs stop working. CO poisoning can become deadly within minutes.
What are the symptoms?
CO poisoning symptoms can appear over several days, or if a lot of gas is breathed in over a short period, it can kill you before signs become apparent. Early symptoms include:
- headaches and dizziness
- nausea and vomiting
- chest pain and muscle weakness
- confusion and drowsiness
- breathing problems
- vision problems.