An off-duty firefighter ended up saving the lives of dozens of people at a North Carolina restaurant when he noticed something odd.
Lonnie Wimmer, a firefighter from Lewisville, North Carolina, was at River Ridge Tap House for a birthday party with friends when he noticed something was off. Several people in the restaurant were complaining about headaches and nausea.
Wimmer immediately recognized the symptoms and called emergency responders for help. When the responders arrived, Wimmer’s suspicions were correct – patrons were showing early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to WXII, when firefighters arrived at the restaurant, they found that CO levels were five times what is considered to be a healthy level.
According to the NY Daily News, an estimated 24 people in the restaurant were treated by Forsyth County medical responders. Fourteen people were transferred to nearby hospitals.
“If we weren’t there… someone you know could have gotten sleepy went home went to sleep and never could have woke up,” Wimmer told WXII.
The high carbon monoxide levels were caused by a faulty heating unit in the restaurant. The restuarant did not have a carbon monoxide alarm, though North Carolina does not have a law requiring businesses to have an alarm.
The River Ridge Tap House has since had their heating unit fixed. The restuarant’s owners say they plan to install CO monitors to prevent any dangerous incidents in the future.
According to NY Daily News, carbon monoxide is often referred to as “the invisible killer,” and can cause brain damage or death at extreme levels.
“Even though it was a bad situation… everyone ended up going home at the end of the day, “ Asst. Chief of the Lewisville Fire Department, Steve Williams told WXII.