Chicago Paramedics Gain ‘Third Eye’ with Honeywell Monitors for Detecting Deadly Carbon Monoxide Gas
June 13, 2019
It was a warm summer day on the Saturday before Father’s Day in June 2012. Veteran paramedic Anne Gradolf responded to a call for an ambulance on the southeast side of Chicago. The boyfriend of a young woman, who was sick with severe flu-like symptoms, placed the call. At the scene, Gradolf noticed both the woman and her boyfriend appeared lethargic. The woman refused to go to the hospital, insisting she just had the flu and needed to stay home and rest. After checking her vital signs and not finding anything amiss, Gradolf had the woman sign a medical release and headed back to her vehicle. “I had done what I was supposed to do, but there was just something about the way they were acting,” said Gradolf. “Their sluggish appearance haunted me. It was just a gut instinct that something else was going on here; it just didn’t feel right.” Before reaching her vehicle, Gradolf made an about-face and went back to the residence. On her return, others in the home were awakened and she noticed everyone had a similar “dazed and lethargic look.” She also discovered there were 10 people in the home, ranging in age from 70 years old to a baby about one year old. She called for a fire company, which used a portable gas-detection instrument to quickly determine the presence of carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless and highly toxic gas. It turned out the occupants in this home were sick from CO poisoning. With readings at 400 parts per million (ppm), it would not have taken long for this incident to turn lethal. “It was summertime, so you are not necessarily thinking CO,” said Gradolf, whose gut instinct saved the lives of everyone in the home that day. A malfunctioning water heater was discovered to be the source of the toxic gas. Everyone went to the hospital, including three of the residents with exposure severe enough to require treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.