Carbon Monoxide Exposure Leads to Seven Hospital Transports in Ocala
(OCALA, FL.) July 26, 2023 – On Tuesday, July 25, at approximately 7:39 p.m., Ocala Fire Rescue's Engines 1 and 4, Rescues 1 and 3, Tower 1, Battalion Chief 11, and a Safety Officer were dispatched to Cheney Brothers, 2801 West Silver Springs Blvd., where Rescue 4 was responding to a medical emergency. The response upgrade was due to reports of multiple employees reporting symptoms congruent with carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.
Upon arrival, engine crews deployed gas monitors to assess combustible gas levels in the structure. Obtaining an alarm for elevated CO levels, crews evacuated the occupants and began searching for the source of the problem. Once workers were outside, medics assessed their state, identifying eleven people exhibiting CO poisoning symptoms. Four people refused treatment. Seven patients were transported to the hospital by Marion County Fire Rescue.
Consolidating staff reports with the location where carbon monoxide level was peeking inside the structure, firefighters identified a faulty propane-powered floor cleaner as the issue. When turned on, the machine was emitting CO levels of 1400 ppm (parts per million) - levels much higher than the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards for outdoor air (9 ppm) or the average levels in homes without gas stoves (0.5 to 5 ppm).
With open doors and the help of strategically placed fans, crews ventilated the building until CO levels dropped below 2 ppm.
CO is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas which deprives the body of oxygen. CO can overcome a person in minutes without warning because it is impossible to detect solely by using our five senses.
To prevent CO poisoning scares, Ocala Fire Rescue recommends that the public familiarize themselves with CO exposure symptoms - such as headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, chest pain, etc. - and maintain working CO detectors in areas where gas or gas-powered appliances are used.