MODESTO -- Five Modesto residents were treated at a hospital Tuesday morning after they were exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide inside the Tokay Avenue home where they were sleeping.
"Headache and stomachache were the main symptoms," said Johnny Hutson, one of the five who was hospitalized. "And that's exactly what I had when I woke up."
The first to become sick was a young woman. The four other occupants of the home were unaware carbon monoxide was the cause of her symptoms. They called 911 and she was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance.
Hospital staff members diagnosed the woman with carbon monoxide poisoning and alertly contacted a Modesto Fire Department dispatcher within the first hour of her hospitalization, according to Modesto Fire Division Chief Tim Tietjen.
"Forty-five minutes or so I was contacted by the dispatcher who stated that the hospital had reached out... to let them know that the patient who was transported in on engine 5's call actually had carbon monoxide poisoning," Tietjen told FOX40. "And so they wanted to reach out to see whether there were additional people at the home or to check the home."
A truck and engine from station 5 responded to the residence along with Modesto Police. There were four occupants asleep inside.
"The captain on truck 5 went ahead and made the decision to force entry," Tietjen said. "They checked the door, found it to be unlocked, opened the door and from the doorway he could see a gentleman lying on the couch."
A handheld carbon monoxide detector, carried into the home by the firefighters, signaled a high level of carbon monoxide in the home.
"So we needed to get them out of that environment immediately because I believe if they had been there any more than two to three hours longer, that it very well could have been tragic," Tietjen explained.
"They woke us all up and rushed us to the hospital," Hutson said.
The source of carbon monoxide was found to be a generator the housemates had placed in a crawl space for electricity. Hutson said their electricity was turned off because they had trouble paying the bill due to unemployment.
The housemates were all treated and released from the hospital the same day, according to Hutson.
"Our hats are off to them," Hudson said of the alert hospital staff members, dispatchers, paramedics and firefighters who teamed up to save the lives of him and his housemates. "They did save our lives, you know, because I was dead asleep. A few hours after that, it would've been a wrap."