Emergency medical providers discuss poison control

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.-It’s National Poison Prevention Week, and emergency crews in Bowling Green are raising awareness about the common types of poisonings and how to prevent them.

Household products, medicines, fumes and even food can all lead to a person being poisoned, and sometimes it’s fatal. Carbon monoxide is a common cause of poisoning deaths in the United States.

“It accounts nationwide for 10 to 15 percent of deaths that are poisonings. It’s a colorless, odorless gas,” said Jim Williams, field operations manager at EMS in Bowling Green.

Boilers, central heating systems and water heaters can all cause carbon monoxide gas in the home. EMS crews carry small devices on their bags to help detect the toxic gas.

“We’ve gotten a call for a heart attack, because the person really didn’t know what was going on. They knew they were short of breath. Crew walks in, sets their gear down and the alarm goes off,” said Williams.

EMS gets calls almost daily involving a poisoning incident. Most of the time it’s accidental.

“Once we get an ambulance in route to those calls then we contact Poison Control. We patch them in with our caller and we stay on the line,” said Stacy Weber, emergency medical dispatcher at EMS.

More than two million potential poison exposures are reported every year to poison control centers.

“Anytime that there’s a poisoning situation, it’s the unknown. They don’t know what’s going to happen from what that person just took. So, if you can patch in Poison Control and they can take out some of that unknown for them, then it gives them some comfort,” said Weber.

Most of calls EMS receives about poisonings involve children and the elderly. They advise installing a carbon monoxide detector in the home, and also keeping things like medicine, engine oil and pesticides in original containers and stored safely away.