Elderly couple found unconscious with gas poisoning
A COUPLE in their 80s narrowly escaped death when a quick-thinking friend found them suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The couple were being visited by their elderly friend – a once a week routine – who raised the alarm after finding them unconscious.
She called paramedics from the South Western Ambulance service to the address in the Wallabrook area of Tavistock, near Wilminstone industrial estate.
The incident happened at the couple’s house, sited in a narrow country lane behind Kelly Collage preparatory school, shortly after 11.50am yesterday.
Paramedics immediately realised the couple were suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and gave them oxygen.
The elderly couple, and the friend from Dousland, were taken to Derriford Hospital.
The couple’s dog was also collected by the RSPCA for treatment.
Fire crews from Tavistock and Bere Alston retained stations were also called to the property, a semi-detached cottage, and confirmed high readings of carbon monoxide in the home and the neighbouring properties.
Tavistock Watch Commander, Glenn Arundel, said the friend’s weekly visit was a lifesaver.
He said: “She only calls once a week on Thursdays. If she hadn’t called on them yesterday, it could’ve ended differently.”
Commander Arundel said the couple had an old-style fireplace in which they burned coal and anthracite.
He said: “It could have been a blocked chimney and the fumes have come out through the plasterwork of both houses.
“This has been the fifth serious call we’ve had in the last five years to carbon monoxide poisoning.
“We would urge all residents to invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
“They cost between £20 and £30, but for that money they will save your life.”
Firefighters said they understood the couple later underwent hyperbaric oxygen treatment which involves a patient breathing 100 per cent oxygen inside a treatment chamber at a pressure greater than sea level.
A spokesperson for South Western Ambulance Service said: “Without the quick thinking of the friend and the rapid identification of the cause the outcome may have been very different.”