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Off-duty Firefighter a Hero After Saving 30 Restaurant Patrons

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Off-duty firefighter, Lonnie Wimmer, set out to enjoy a dinner party with friends at the River Ridge Tap House restaurant in Clemmons, NC never dreaming he would be a hero before the night was out. Looking around the table, and then the restaurant, Wimmer got the feeling something just wasn’t right.


Photo: Facebook/Jacob Wimmer

Guests at the party had been inside the restaurant approximately an hour and a half. They began complaining of headaches, nausea, and a few even complained of chest pains. A two-year veteran with the Lewisville Fire Department, Wimmer’s first thought was carbon monoxide poisoning. He called the fire station and asked his co-workers to get to the restaurant as soon as they could.

At least 12 firefighters responded to the call. They discovered high levels of carbon monoxide inside the restaurant. Thanks to Wimmer’s quick thinking, they evacuated the restaurant. Fire officials and EMTs evaluated a total of 30 people, and at least 16 were transferred to local hospitals with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.


Photo: LinkedIn/Lewisville Fire Department

“CO is truly the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t detect it —you can’t smell it,” Steve Williams, assistant fire chief for the department, told CBS News. “Or you wait until you start getting sick, flu-like symptoms. A lot of people will think they got the flu and not start getting treatment.” Friends at the fire department are calling Lonnie Wimmer, who’s worked there for two years, a hero.

Emergency Room Sign

Photo: Flickr/zoomar

Research on Mayoclinic.com explains how carbon monoxide poisoning occurs. As carbon monoxide builds up in the body, it attaches itself to the red blood cells blocking oxygen. Before long, this can lead to tissue damage and even death.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include a dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. Carbon monoxide leaks come from gas or oil furnaces, gas refrigerators, gas clothes dryers, gas ranges, gas water heaters or space heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills, and wood burning stoves.

At the River Ridge Tap House restaurant in Clemmons, the carbon monoxide leak stemmed from a broken heating unit inside the restaurant. The restaurant was temporarily closed while a technician fixed the heater and workers were able to air out the place.