Southwick family treated for CO poisoning

SOUTHWICK – Thanks to quick action from members of the Southwick Fire Department (SFD) Thursday night, a town family is alive and well.
Around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night, EMT Jessica Bishop returned to her home and smelled an unusual odor. According to Chief Richard Anderson, she called fellow EMT Adam Hart who suggested she contact Capt. Bill Frazer. Luckily, she made that call.
“Jessica called me and I grabbed our carbon monoxide meter at the station,” said Frazer. “When I got to her house I put a spotlight on her chimney and looked around and found nothing there, but I did see a haze coming from the next street over.”
Frazer investigated and found out from a resident that a neighbor – Harold Delava and his mother – had their furnace serviced earlier that day after the power came on.
“I knocked on the door and saw smoke through the window,” Frazer said.
Delava answered the door and was not aware of the smoke. The man, who is in his 50s, has some challenges and lives with his elderly mother. Frazer said while standing in the doorway talking to Delava, the meter ‘s emergency alarm sounded.
“I got Harold out and went in and woke up his mother and got her out,” Frazer said. “The levels were more than 100 times what is safe.”
Anderson said the average safe level is 32 parts per million and the level at Delava’s home was 240 parts per million.
The family was taken to the hospital and tested for carbon monoxide poisoning. They were treated and released and spent Thursday and Friday at the Westfield/Southwick shelter at Westfield State University’s Scanlon Hall.
On Friday, the company that serviced the furnace on Thursday returned and fixed the problem, with members of the SFD watching to make sure it was in working order.
“It took an hour-and-a-half to vent the house,” Anderson said.
Frazer said the department is trying to help the family be safe by helping them install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and getting them assistance.
“We are addressing the situation with sensitivity,” he said. “We’re trying to handle it carefully.”
Anderson praised Bishop, Hart and Frazer for responding so quickly.
“Had they not taken action, this would have ended differently,” said Anderson. “It shows the caliber of people we have here.”
Frazer said because they had been exposed to the carbon monoxide for several hours before he arrived, he estimated that they would have died in another four hours in the home.
He also gave credit to Bishop and the department.
“Everybody did a great job,” said Frazer.
Since the snowstorm hit Western Massachusetts a week ago, Anderson said the SFD has been working non-stop to assist residents.
“We’ve been going straight since Saturday,” said Anderson. “These volunteers were also without power and were trying to go to their jobs, take care of their families and volunteer here,” he said. “I just can’t put it into words the way I feel about them.”

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