A Chilling Experience on the Ice: Large-Scale Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Wisconsin Leads to Improved Outreach and Surveillance Efforts
by Christy Vogt, MPH, CHES and Paul Creswell, PhD
It was a chilly December night in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, a summer tourism town of about 3,000 people that lies 45 minutes north of the state capitol, Madison. A hockey game finished at the local ice rink and players were goofing around with parents and friends. The fun stopped suddenly when a player collapsed in the locker room. Someone called 911, and the fire department—which happens to be across the street—responded in minutes. Emergency responders evacuated the rink and tested the air for carbon monoxide (CO). The results showed CO levels were dangerously high.
Everyone was encouraged to go to emergency rooms for evaluation, and over 70 people were found to be poisoned from CO. The fire department later traced the CO source to a malfunctioning ice resurfacer. Following the incident, our team in the Wisconsin Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health was dispatched to conduct an epidemiological investigation.
Learn more about the investigation and the resources we created in the article, “Improving Outreach and Surveillance Efforts Following a Large-Scale Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Wisconsin” in a special issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. The resources we developed—including recommendations, fact sheets, videos, and helpful links—are available at dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/arena.htm.
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Christy Vogt, MPH, CHES, is the Communications and Education Coordinator for the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Paul Creswell, PhD, is the Senior Epidemiologist for the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.