SUMMIT, NJ - What began as a 9-1-1 call for a medical emergency from a Summit resident in her home, evolved into an incident that sent 5 people, including 3 first responders to the hospital. The initial call for help came just before 3 AM from a woman complaining of heart palpitations. Not long after EMS arrived on the scene, the woman’s husband also became ill followed by a paramedic from Atlantic Health who had responded to assist. Members of the Summit Fire Department discovered high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in the home. Both residents and the paramedic were treated and transported by ambulance to Overlook Medical Center. Two Summit Police officers also exhibited symptoms of CO poisoning and were evaluated on scene and also transported to Overlook as a precaution.
Summit EMS was tied up on another emergency at the time of the initial call and requested assistance from the Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer Fist Aid Squad. After a 3rd patient was discovered, an ambulance crew from the Springfield Volunteer First Aid Squad was also requested. Both mutual aid crews transported patients. The Summit First Aid Squad crew remained on scene until the Fire Department had cleared the house of dangerous gases.
CO gas is colorless and odorless and very difficult to detect without equipment. CO poisoning is a life threatening emergency and it is not uncommon for affected people to die in their sleep. “Given the hour, both residents are very lucky”, said First Aid Squad spokesman John Staunton. “In addition to a smoke or fire alarm, every home should have at least one CO detector.”
First Aid Squad Chief Kari Phair was grateful for the prompt response from neighboring EMS agencies. “Summit provides EMS mutual aid assistance to our neighboring communities about 250 times a year and we sometimes need them to return the favor” said the Chief.