Fire officials say winter is prime time for carbon monoxide exposure. Thanks to a state-of-the-art monitor, Lincoln Fire & Rescue crews can detect CO in the bloodstream within seconds.
"They're an important tool in helping save people's lives," Lincoln Fire Capt. Dean Delany said.
It's technology that came in handy for dozens Friday. Officials say they used the device on several people who got sick from a gas leak at the Joyo Theater in Havelock.
Fire crews were called to a group home near 25th and R streets after a few residents reported feeling ill. Some said they were so dizzy they had trouble walking. Black Hills Energy says a faulty furnace at the theater, where the residents had just returned from, was to blame.
"Carbon monoxide is a product of combustion, so with the gas of the furnace it puts out carbon monoxide if it's not properly vented," Delany said.
With a device called the Lifepak 15, rescue personnel can detect CO faster than ever, and it's easier than getting your finger pricked. Delany says a clamp is put on the patient's finger. The monitor measures oxygen levels but will also beep if it detects any carbon monoxide.
"We actually use that on every medical that we go on," Delany said.
Before LFR received the new technology four years ago, officials say carbon monoxide poisoning could go unnoticed, even after a trip to the hospital. Now every fire truck and rescue vehicle in the city is equipped with a Lifepak 15.
"This device helps us identify that and also helps the hospital in treating the patient," Delany said.
Fire officials want to remind everyone to make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. They say even the smallest leak can build up in your system and become dangerous.