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    Emergency Medical Technicians and Carbon Monoxide Response Calls

    Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly toxic, colorless, and odorless gas produced through the incomplete burning of fuels that is responsible for nearly 500 unintentional deaths each year. While 60% of these deaths are associated with motor vehicle exhaust, 40% stem from consumer products. Even more telling, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 20,000 people seek emergency care and 4,000 more are hospitalized annually due to CO exposure. Responding to a CO incident call in a safe manner is essential for the protection of both rescue personnel and potential victims of CO exposure.

    Emergency Medical Technicians and Carbon Monoxide Response Calls — The Basics

    Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and fire/rescue personnel are typically called to respond to incidents related to carbon monoxide (CO).

    Personnel responding to such calls should follow safe entry procedures when entering a structure in which there has been a report of CO exposure.

    Typically, these calls are made because a CO alarm has been triggered or occupants suspect CO poisoning due to illness.

    Potential Sources Carbon Monoxide Exposure in the Home and Garage

    Homes, structures, and garages have many sources that can be responsible for elevated CO levels, such as:

    • Automobiles and other vehicles
    • Golf carts
    • Lawn mowers
    • Water heaters
    • Generators
    • Furnaces
    • Space heaters
    • Fireplaces
    • Wood stoves
    • Ranges
    • Ovens
    • Clothes dryers
    • Any appliance that burns fuel
    EMS worker driving an ambulance

    Professional equipment specific to the detection of CO, such as a CO meter, is essential in locating the source of elevated CO.

    Emergency medical personnel should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use, maintenance, and calibration to ensure proper operation.

    Guidelines for Taking Indoor CO Measurements

    According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), emergency medical technicians or rescue personnel entering a structure suspected of unsafe CO levels should use a reliable CO detection meter to take a series of measurements.

    The CSPC recommends the following steps, although you should always follow the directives specified by your department or governing body:

    • After removing all individuals from harm and treating them as necessary, using your CO meter take and record a reading outside and at the entry to the structure with all fuel-burning appliances turned off.
    • Close all doors and windows and turn on any fuel-burning appliances or CO sources that have been used in the last 24-hour period. Keep them on for about 15 minutes so they reach optimal operating levels.
    • Walk through the house, measuring ambient air in the center of each room, moving at least 5’ from any source of CO and avoiding flue pipes and vents.
    • Use a smoke test to check for correct drafting in a natural draft furnace.
    • After all measurements are taken and recorded, open all windows and doors to provide ventilation. Review the measurements, subtracting the outdoor CO reading from the indoor reading to determine the contribution from indoor sources. Evaluate the data to determine the CO source.

    Always ensure your CO detection equipment is in good working order before responding to an incident call where CO exposure is suspected.

    To learn more about the effects of CO poisoning, please review Understanding the Effects of Carbon Monoxide.

    Using Carbon Monoxide Meters to Detect and Monitor Carbon Monoxide Levels

    The Sensorcon Inspector is a trusted tool used by emergency medical technicians, first responders, firefighters, and police officers for detecting and identifying the source of carbon monoxide leaks.

    The Sensorcon CO Inspector is a portable and reliable carbon monoxide meter (CO meter) that was designed in the USA and assembled in our manufacturing facility located in Buffalo, NY.

    The CO meter provides you with real-time readings all the way from 0 to 2000 PPM and is used by professionals to monitor or inspect for carbon monoxide.

    Trusted by police departments, fire fighters, and emergency medical services (EMS), the Sensorcon CO Inspector is a great tool for monitoring for and diagnosing CO leaks in the home, workplace, vehicles, or other environment.

    Please visit our product pages to learn more about our various product offerings.