AUSTIN EDITION Residents, rescuers treated for CO poisoning

Car left running produces near-fatal level of toxic gas

By Amy Olson

An elderly couple, three Austin law enforcement officers and two Gold Cross paramedics were treated Tuesday evening after being overcome by carbon monoxide.

Austin Police Capt. Curt Rude said Sara C. Swanson, 75, and her husband, Robert N. Swanson, 82, of 2008 Oak Tree Lane, were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis for treatment.


Robert Swanson was listed in satisfactory condition this morning; Sara Swanson was treated and released.

Rude said Police Officer Kurt Zehnder, Sgt. Jim Erickson and police Reserve Officer Edward Fellows, as well as Gold Cross paramedics Shannon Getzin and Bennett Schlaak, were taken to Austin Medical Center, where they were treated and released.

Rude said Sara Swanson called 911 shortly after 8 p.m. and said she and her husband were not feeling well and she thought she smelled gas. When officers arrived, they found Sara Swanson groggy and Robert Swanson unconscious.

Rude said Zehnder discovered a car had been left running in the garage, possibly for hours, and notified other authorities about possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

Authorities determined the carbon monoxide level in the home was 1,000 parts per million, which Rude called a fatal or near-fatal level.

Rude said some of the emergency responders suffered hyperventilation and a second team of paramedics was called to the scene.

Zehnder was taken to Austin Medical Center by ambulance and the other officers and paramedics drove to the hospital as a precaution.

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