Carbon monoxide sends 31 to Sask. hospital

More than 30 residents, staff and visitors from a long-term care facility were taken to hospital in Humbolt, Sask., early Sunday morning after showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

More than 30 residents, staff and visitors from a long-term care facility were taken to hospital in Humbolt, Sask., early Sunday morning after showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

An elderly woman, who complained of a heart problem following a gas leak from a boiler in one of the wings at St. Mary's Villa, is being held in hospital for observation.

People in the Dust Wing of the facility started to show symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can include nausea, headaches and fatigue.

It took more than an hour for 24 of the wing's 39 residents, five staff and two visitors to be taken to Humboldt District Hospital as officials were cautious about moving the residents, some of whom are in wheelchairs.

"We certainly wouldn't feel it would be appropriate to move them until we had confirmation that there was a requirement to remove them," said Kelvin Fisher, director of rural health and planning for Saskatoon Health Region, which includes Humboldt. "It certainly was traumatic for them, but I do have to give credit to our staff and the firefighters. They did a phenomenal job of keeping things as calm as possible," he said.

Another 14 people were moved to unaffected areas of St. Mary's Villa, the health region said in a news release.

Fire, emergency services and SaskEnergy workers responded to the emergency.

The influx of patients from the facility forced the Humboldt hospital to call in extra staff.

Fisher commended St. Mary's Villa staff and the hospital "for their quick thinking to identify the problem and protect our residents."

 The leak in the boiler was fixed and residents returned to St. Mary's Sunday evening. 

There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the facility, but monitors have now been placed in the building.   

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas resulting from the incomplete burning of fuel in gas furnaces, heating systems and kitchen stoves. It can be fatal.

With files from the CBC's Alana Bergstrom