The Manitowoc, WI carbon monoxide leak sent 17 people to the hospital on Monday, according to the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter. Ten of the people were on the upper level in apartments above a business. The other seven were in Susie Kay’s Cafe on the first floor of the building block.

Four of the victims were transported to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee for hyperbaric oxygen treatment. This kind of therapy can help reduce the likelihood of cognitive sequelae in the time following the poisoning, and is usually administered to people who are seriously poisoned. One person was flown by helicopter to Milwaukee.

This poisoning was so significant that it knocked at least three people unconscious and caused levels of more than 100 ppm at the entrance. The 911 call reported two people unconscious, a man and a woman, in the apartments upstairs around 9:15 a.m. Monday. When firefighters arrived, they couldn’t even enter the building at first and had to put on breathing apparatuses to enter the building. When inside, they removed another unconscious man. In addition, levels of carbon monoxide would be even higher near the source as opposed to the entrance.

This incident was considered a mass casualty incident because Manitowoc is not big enough to handle 17 sick people at one time. The Manitowoc firefighters were feeling overwhelmed, so authorities from Two Rivers and Mishicot both helped with the emergency response. It was only with the help of other local departments that they were able to make the situation better not worse. Most of today’s victims were not in critical condition, and Fire Chief Todd Blaser credited the emergency response.

Aurora Medical Hospital in Two Rivers and Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc both accepted patients from this incident as well. The affected buildings were closed down until the firefighters could find and fix the carbon monoxide leak. The Red Cross was called to find overnight housing for the families living in the apartments.

Blaser “emphasized the importance of carbon monoxide detectors, especially with winter weather on the way,” according to the article. Carbon monoxide detectors will alert you to the toxic gas being leaked into the home, usually from a faulty fuel-burning appliance, like a furnace. It can also come from a motor vehicle, portable generators, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, or burning charcoal or wood. Wisconsin law actually requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in new and old residential construction, as long as it has a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage.

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