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Portage Fire Department Turns Lifesaving Moment Into Valuable Teaching Lesson


Early last week, the Portage Fire Department responded to a call of a sick person on the south side of town. The symptoms described were not related to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, but thanks to special monitors attached to their assessment/airway bags, they found that the house had dangerously high levels of CO in it.

Thanks to these special monitors, made in Valparaiso by Sensit Technologies, the three adults and two children in the residence were evacuated in time and are alive and well.

Now, the Portage Fire Department and Sensit are using this positive situation to remind residents of Northwest Indiana about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and what they can do to help protect themselves.

“The biggest culprit (of CO poisoning) is the stove,” Portage Fire Chief Thomas Fieffer II said during a press conference. “We strongly suggest that you should never use your stove to heat your home.”

Fieffer stressed that while learning what not to do with household appliances, especially during winter, was important, of equal importance is knowing what to do to keep on top of monitoring and preventing CO overexposure.

According to Fieffer, one of the biggest ways people can avoid the risk of CO poisoning is simply to stay proactive in maintaining household appliances and making the small investment in purchasing a residential CO monitor that can help prevent big problems from occurring.

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“Those two things are a tie for your best bets to staying safe,” Fieffer said.

Finally, Fieffer and Assistant Chief Dan Kodicek hoped that their situation can serve as a positive reminder to safety and rescue teams from all around The Region to learn about these new portable monitors, and if they have one, to make sure they are being effectively utilized.

“(The monitor) protects residents and protects rescuers,” Kodieck said.

The Portage Fire Departments, who received the monitors thanks to a grant from American Water, estimates that with their active monitors they have been able to perform over 3,000 CO monitors of residences during responses to unrelated medical calls.

As for Sensit, the developers of the monitors, they were just happy to help out the Portage Fire Department and hope to get the opportunity to help many more around Northwest Indiana.

“It was a proud moment,” said J. Scott Kleppe, CEO of Sensit, “to be able to know we did our job to help them do theirs.”

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