Perham Sanford Hospital responds to CO poisoning

OTTER TAIL COUNTY, Minn. (Valley News Live) – Update 12/21/2016


One person has died and eight people were rushed to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. It happened in Otter Tail County Monday night.

The house where it happened sits on the shores of Sybil Lake near Vergas and was where a 67-year-old man was pronounced dead.

A spokesman for the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department says the 67-year-old homeowner was alone in a shop he built on the couple’s property. Several friends of the family have identified the victim as Tom Elkin, a retired cabinet maker.

The Otter Tail County Sheriffs Office tells us his wife came home about 7:00 Monday night to find him not breathing. The Sheriff’s Office says shortly after EMS arrived on scene, paramedics and the wife started showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Typically symptoms are headaches,” said Perham Health, Emergency Department Medical Director, Dr. Timothy Studer. “That’s the most common symptom. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, dizziness, general fatigue and malaise.”

High levels were found in the home and the family was reportedly doing remodeling work. The Sheriff’s Office tells us the wife collapsed.

“In this case it was very quickly,” said Dr. Studer. “Our EMS responders were there for just a few minutes and they had very high levels when they arrived here.”

Perham Health says three EMS employees were airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center along with the wife. She’s reported to be in satisfactory condition. The reason they were taken to Hennepin County is because they have a hyperbaric chamber, a device which is needed to treat carbon monoxide poisoning.

A number of medical helicopters came from around the region to transport the affected patients. We are still waiting to find out just what caused such a large carbon monoxide leak.

Original Story

One person has died and eight people were rushed to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. It happened in Otter Tail County Monday night.

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says a woman came home to find her husband not breathing. A 67-year-old man was pronounced dead at the home, which is in rural Vergas, Minnesota near Sybil Lake.

The wife and some paramedics then started to show signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. High levels of carbon monoxide were detected. A deputy tells Valley News Live the family was doing some remodeling on the house.

Perham Health tells Valley News Live four people, including three Perham Area EMS employees, were air lifted to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). Perham Health says the three EMS employees will be released Tuesday. HCMC says the woman is in satisfactory condition.

The other four people involved were kept at Perham Health for observation and released at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says deputies, State Patrol troopers and firefighters were all involved.

Sanford Air Care from Fargo, Valley Med Flight of Grand Forks, and North Memorial of Brainerd/Bemidji all responded to help with transferring patients.

“Our hearts go out to our first responders and their families,” stated Chuck Hofius, Perham Health CEO. “Each time EMS personnel go on a call, we know there is risk and worry for their safety. I am so proud of everyone at Perham health – from the EMS crew on the scene to the staff in the emergency department who responded so quickly to the many other employees that came in from home to help. They did an incredible job in a very scary situation.”