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Published February 14, 2015
EMS Saves Family from Carbon Monoxide Death

With the Friday night temperatures hovering near freezing, a Ben Hill County family settled down to sleep in their new home listening to the hum of a generator.  They had just moved in, and power service had not been connected yet; so they were using the generator to run a heater for the home.  

About 11:00 p.m., a groggy family member was able to call 911 for help; and the Ben Hill County EMS was dispatched.  When the paramedics arrived, they found the home filled with a high-concentration of deadly carbon monoxide gas from the improperly vented generator.  The four family members  were unresponsive, and the carbon monoxide fumes quickly overcame one of the paramedics. 

Ben Hill County EMS backup and all on-call crews were dispatched.  Wilcox County sent an Ambulance and crew to cover the rest of Ben Hill County while the Ben Hill paramedics handled this emergency.  Sheriff's Deputies and the Fitzgerald Fire Department soon arrived with emergency breathing equipment to help get the victims out of the home.  As the comatose patients were put in the ambulances and connected to life support, they were barely clinging to life.

The EMS Director knew he was working against the clock; and if the patients were to survive there were only minutes to get them to a large Emergency Center.  The EMS Ambulances headed for Tift Regional Medical Center.  Using their on-board, state-of-the-art communications equipment, the paramedics transmitted vital life signs on each patient to the  Tift Emergency Medical Center.   When they arrived, 4 dedicated doctors with full crews were standing by to  receive them. 

All four patients were quickly treated and hospitalized.  By morning, the four family member’s vital signs had returned to normal and their prognoses were good.  The Ben Hill County paramedic was treated at Dorminy Medical Center in Fitzgerald, and was later released to go home.

"In another 15-minutes, we would not have been able to save them", said Mark Shealy, Ben Hill County EMS Director. "This was a long night for everyone.  We appreciate how quickly Wilcox County EMS responded to our request for mutual aid."

"Our County is blessed with one of the finest EMS Departments in the state', said Philip C. Jay, III, Chairman of the County Commission.  "These men and women never hesitate to put their own lives at risk to save others, and we are all very grateful for them".

Questions:    Frank Feild, County Manager    (912) 258-4937