|Firefighter Brian Severs|
Another voice came on the line, explaining that the nursing home resident who called was prone to complaining about his health.
"To be honest with you, there's nothing wrong," the nurse said. "This happens all the time."
Severs, a nine-year veteran of the department, sent medics anyway. When they arrived at Bryden Place on the Near East Side on Tuesday evening, they found levels of carbon-monoxide high enough to evacuate a wing of the nursing home. Fire officials said this week that the nursing home dodged a bullet, thanks to the 911 call and Severs' actions.
“There was nothing that set it apart from any other call,” Severs said. “Something told me, 'Don’t blow this off; this person called 911 because they thought they needed help.'”
The Columbus firefighters, who field between 1,000 and 1,500 calls each day, tend to have about a decade of street experience. Department officials say that background gives them the tools to notice subtle red flags and decide the right course of action.
“With this run here, he did exactly what you’re supposed to do: Go with your gut feeling,” said Capt. Loren Peck.
Eventually, 10 medics were sent to the 143-occupant nursing home at 1169 Bryden Road around 5 p.m. Ten residents and employees with elevated carbon-monoxide levels were sent to the hospital.
Firefighters clear a building at 35 parts per million of carbon monoxide. First responders measured readings of between 60 and 120 ppm on the second and third floors of Bryden’s south wing, and 350 ppm in its basement.
That afternoon, Severs said, there were more calls coming in than there was screen space at the dispatch center. It would have been easy for him to tell the nurse to call back if things got worse.
But instead he erred on the side of caution.
“One little mistake leads to another mistake, and next thing you know we’re on national television because 10 people died in a nursing home,” he said.
As he does with every call he takes, Severs pictured the scenario by recalling years of emergency situations that he's handled.
In this case, he said, medics might have encountered someone in need of medical attention. At the very least, they could check the distressed caller's vitals and reassure him.
"We can visually already kind of see what’s going on even though you’re not there," Severs said, "because we’re on these runs too."
And that's why it's imperative that emergency responders are the ones who pick up 911 calls, Severs said.
“Every time you answer that phone, you don’t know what you’re getting involved in," he said. "The only way to really know it, or see it, or feel it, is to be a part of it."
Tuesday’s close call also highlighted the importance of carbon-monoxide awareness, especially in winter. As temperatures drop, people inadvertently put themselves at risk by bumping up furnace use, warming homes with propane heaters, overusing gas stoves or running generators out of garages.
There were no carbon-monoxide detectors in Bryden Place, Battalion Chief Steve Martin said earlier this week, and state law does not require them.
Because the gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless, people might not identify symptoms such as dizziness or nausea as carbon-monoxide poisoning. Fire officials warned that if there’s any doubt, vacate a building and shut all windows and doors on the way out so firefighters can get an accurate reading. When safely outside, wait for emergency responders.
“If you think something’s wrong, call us,” said Peck. “Don’t hesitate. That’s what we're here for."
Full Article & Source:
Firefighter trusted his gut, likely saved nursing home from disaster