Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Two paramedics in Calgary were taken to hospital after being exposed to carbon monoxide (CO) gas.
At about 7:20 am on December 14, 2010 , the Calgary Fire Department was called to assist the city’s Emergency Medical Services with an unconscious patient at a residence, notes a statement from the fire department. Paramedics were examining the patient when they began to suspect the symptoms might have been the result of CO exposure.
When firefighters reached the scene, two paramedics and two dogs appeared to be suffering symptoms of CO poisoning. The home was ventilated, the paramedics treated by firefighters, and the dogs given oxygen with pet ventilators.Carbon monoxide levels in the home were measured at almost 400 parts per million (ppm), much higher than the 12.5 ppm level at which the fire department
would usually begin an evacuation.
Work Safe Alberta in Edmonton notes that exposed persons may experience mild headache at CO levels of less than 50 ppm; severe headache at 50 to 200 ppm; weakness, dizziness, nausea and fainting at 200 to 400 ppm; increased or irregular heartbeat at 400 to 1,200 ppm, loss of consciousness at 1,200 to 2,000 ppm and death would occur within minutes at 2,000 to 5,000 ppm.
Ontario has regulation 833/90 which covers the ‘CONTROL OF EXPOSURE TO BIOLOGICAL OR CHEMICAL AGENTS’, states the allowable amount of exposure for many types of chemicals and biological hazards.
In this case, it seems that the ability to detect carbon monoxide in the residence was not thought of. A 4 gas monitor made available would have corrected the concern and better protect the paramedics. The residence is actually a workplace for the paramedics and this is an occupational illness.
I will not bash Alberta for this issue as it may happen in any province. My concern is that someone out there will learn from this and place some type of corrective action plan in place before the next time. A death could have been the result if the ppm was higher or the type spent was a little longer.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Chemical Safety Awareness’ and ‘WHMIS’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.