Guard "wellness check" saves couple from carbon monoxide poisoning
By 1st Lt. Kyle Key and Capt. Dale Greer, Kentucky Army National Guard Public Affairs / 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Officer
/ Published February 02, 2009
HARDINSBURG, Ky -- Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard, working in conjunction with local fire officials here, saved an elderly couple from carbon monoxide poisoning today during a door-to-door "wellness check" in this Breckenridge county community.
Staff Sgt. Jason Scharf, a chaplain's assistant in the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing, and Staff Sgt. Thomas Moses of the Louisville-based 123rd Maintenance Squadron, knocked on the door of an elderly couple's residence to determine if they needed assistance following last week's devastating winter storms. Nearly 3,000 homes remain without power in Breckenridge County, said County Judge Executive Ray Powers.
While speaking with the Airmen, the wife appeared confused and disoriented. She also mentioned that her husband had been complaining of nausea. After she provided an incorrect address for her home, Sergeants Scharf and Moses suspected possible carbon monoxide poisoning and asked Hardinsburg Fire Department firefighter Darren Voyles to conduct a carbon monoxide test.
According to Jerry Martin, chief of the Hardinsburg City Fire Department, the test confirmed a positive reading of 72 parts-per-million of carbon monoxide in the couple's home. Chief Martin said that even 35 parts-per-million can be a lethal amount.
"I don't think they would have lived if we hadn't found them," said Martin, who attributed the poisonings to a faulty gas furnace. "That's a pretty high carbon monoxide level."
The couple was taken by ambulance to Breckenridge Memorial Hospital in Hardinsburg where they were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and released.
Sergeant Moses said he was pleased to be able to participate in the door-to-door mission, which is being staffed by 145 Kentucky Air Guardsmen who deployed here this morning.
"It's a great feeling to know that we may have saved some lives today," he said.
The door-to-door home checks are part of a massive statewide disaster relief effort involving 4,600 Kentucky Army and Air National Guard members who were mobilized in the aftermath of ice storms that left more than 500,000 homes without heat or electricity.
Ninety-three of Kentucky's 120 counties have been declared disaster areas.
Also today, a C-130 Aircraft from the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing transported 100 Kentucky Army National Guard personnel from Lexington to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio, to pick up 50 Humvees from the Ohio National Guard.
The Soldiers, assigned to 149th Infantry Battalion, then drove the vehicles back to Kentucky for use in relief efforts in the western part of the state.