Lifesaver: One that is at once timely and effective in times of distress or need. To Michelle Seifer, this definition perfectly describes Howell gas service worker Travis Fry. Thanks to Travis’ timeliness, professional training and instincts, Michelle is alive today after nearly succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that occurs when there’s incomplete fuel combustion of appliances and consumer products or improper venting. This includes appliances, generators, gas-powered lawn tools and vehicles. About 650 people are affected by CO poisoning each year in Michigan.
On July 30, Travis responded to Michelle’s Livingston County home to investigate why her CO detector was signaling. She had run a portable generator for several days in her garage, door partially open, after a powerful storm knocked out electricity (not provided by Consumers Energy).
Travis immediately began to determine why the alarm was sounding. He inspected the home and found CO readings were particularly high in a room above the garage. He opened windows and doors to air out the home, then went to check on Michelle. Even though she was sitting outside breathing fresh air, she felt nauseated and had a severe headache.
Travis suggested she go by ambulance to the hospital, but Michelle initially refused. He continued to talk with her, strongly encouraging she be examined at a hospital. Michelle agreed and called a friend to take her. Travis waited with her and wrote down his CO findings so she could share them with the medical staff.
Once at the hospital emergency room, Michelle’s bloodwork revealed she had CO poisoning. She was immediately placed into intensive care, and doctors even discussed the possibility of needing to airlift her for therapy in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Fortunately, she responded well to the first line of treatment.
Michelle said the doctor told her she was silently suffocating to death because CO displaces oxygen in red blood cells.
“He told me that had I not come to the hospital when I did and instead gone inside and laid down to sleep, I would have never woken up,” she said. “Thanks to Travis I am alive today. He was my lifesaver.”
Michelle was able to find Travis and texted him her sincere thanks for being the one to respond to her call for help.
Since the incident Michelle has become a strong advocate for CO safety, working to spread awareness about its dangers and the importance of seeking medical attention if exposed to CO. She and Travis met again Oct. 31 at the Howell Service Center where they also talked with media outlets about the incident and helped promote Nov. 4-10 as Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week in Michigan.
“I was happy to help Michelle and am very glad she suffered no lasting effects from the CO exposure. It’s my privilege to be able to help people while representing Consumers Energy,” Travis said.
A five-year Consumers Energy employee, Travis formerly served in the U.S. Army.