Coast Guard Evacuates Man Suffering from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CHANNEL ISLANDS, Calif. – This evening rescuers from Coast Guard Station Channel Islands and Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles performed a joint rescue of a 45 year old male reported to be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

At about 9:30 p.m. the Command Center at Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles – Long Beach in San Pedro received a call that the sole operator of a 37-foot sailing vessel was suffering from possible carbon monoxide poisoning, about 9 miles south of Channel Islands Harbor.

A 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Station Channel Islands with three paramedics from the Ventura County Fire Department on board and a HH65-C rescue helicopter from Air Station Los Angeles were immediately dispatch to the scene.

Once on scene the man was transferred from the sailing vessel to the Coast Guard rescue boat where paramedics determined a medical evacuation of the man was required. The man was then hoisted to the helicopter.

“Based on the boat crew and paramedic’s recommendations, we lowered a basket to recover the patient”, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Brad Rode, “The excellent teamwork between the boat crew and helo allowed for a safe and efficient transfer and delivery to the hospital.” The Coast Guard air crew transferred the man to Saint John’s Hospital in Oxnard.

Carbon Monoxide CO can be a “silent killer.” Each year, boaters are injured or killed by preventable carbon monoxide poisoning.

On boats some common sources of carbon monoxide include engines, generators, cooking ranges, space heaters, and water heaters. Carbon monoxide can collect within a boat in a variety of ways. Exhaust leaks the leading cause of death by carbon monoxide can allow carbon monoxide to migrate throughout the boat and into enclosed areas. Even properly vented exhaust can re-enter a boat if it’s moored too close to a dock or another boat, or if the exhaust is pushed back by prevailing winds. Exhaust can re-enter boats when cruising under certain conditions – the station wagon effect – especially with canvas in place. Exhaust can also collect in enclosed spaces near the stern swim platform.

Boaters can protect against carbon monoxide poisoning be taking some of the precautions listed below:

Use a Marine Carbon Monoxide Detector – These detectors work much like smoke alarms in houses. They sense a moderate level of carbon monoxide present on the vessel and emit a loud siren noise to alert the occupants of the danger.

Ensure Proper Ventilation – Open foredeck hatches and a window in the cabin to allow fresh air to travel through the vessel. Also, be aware that carbon monoxide can collect under a canopy.

Inspect Exhaust System Regularly – Look and listen for leaks in the exhaust system. Check each joint for discoloration, water leaks, carbon build-up or stains. Make sure all ventilation systems are in good repair and are not obstructed, restricted, or punctured. Seal gaps around engine room and exhaust system doors, hatches, and access panels.

Avoid the Transom – The transom is where carbon monoxide collects. Stay away from the transom while the vessel is idling or underway.

Educate Children – Instruct your children about the danger and presence of carbon monoxide on vessels.

Avoid Other Idling Vessels – Idling vessels are a very prominent source for high concentrations of carbon monoxide.

Symptoms of CO poisoning may include severe headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and fainting. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and a mild headache. Low levels are more dangerous in the boating environment because they can lead to drowning. Carbon-monoxide poisoning may not be suspected immediately because the symptoms are similar to those of people with the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses. If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately get the victim to fresh air and seek medical care.

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