Dalton, left, and Sue Spingler, right, and their dog, Teddy, with Rumford Fire Deputy Chief Chris Bryant andf Firefighter Sam Cote. Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

RUMFORD — Fire Chief Chris Reed expressed concern in February about carbon monoxide dangers after his department responded to several calls during the winter, including one in which a resident needed treatment at the hospital.

But such dangers exist year-round, which is the point made earlier in June by Dalton and Sue Spingler, who experienced dangerous carbon monoxide levels at their camp one night last August.

The couple shared their story during a visit to the Rumford Fire Station to thank the firefighters who came to their rescue.

The Spinglers, of Huntington, Massachusetts, bought a summer camp three years ago, the only residence on a hill at 106 Woods Lane, off South Rumford Road.

On a warm summer evening on Aug. 9, Dalton, a disabled veteran, was sitting out front in a lounge chair following a late dinner. He recalled that his wife didn’t feel well and went to bed to lie down.

He then started to have chest pains.

“But I said I’d be all right,” he said. “Maybe it was from working too hard.”

Sue said she was dizzy and nauseated. She said they both were not feeling well at the same time, but they suffered different symptoms.

“A few hours went by and he hollered to me: ‘My chest pains are worse. Call 911,'” she said.

It was difficult for either of them to move. Dalton said he was pretty much out of it, but he managed to help his wife get out of the camp to the end of the driveway, so she would have the reception needed to make a cellphone call.

“All I remember is being in the ambulance, my wife holding my hand,” Dalton said. “And that was it. My CO level was right up there, borderline 530. At that point, they rushed me right over to Lewiston.”

Responding to Sue’s call for help were Deputy Fire Chief Chris Bryant and firefighter Sam Cote. Bryant said the call came in at 1 a.m.

“We had never heard of Woods Lane before,” he said. “I called dispatch on the phone, ‘Where’s Woods Lane?’ Once we figured out where we were going, we got to the narrow road, parked part way up and walked in.”

Sue said, “I was standing out there with my lantern.”

Bryant said, “I remember we had the (CO) monitor and as we were getting to the door, it went up to the hundreds. It was high.”

Dalton said the couple had been there all summer long with no problem.

Bryant said the original reading was 350 parts per million.

“That’s really, really high,” he said.

Cote noted: “If they would have gone to sleep, it would have been a lot different outcome. They probably wouldn’t have woken up.”

Dalton was also worried about their dog, Teddy, training to be a service dog.

“Here’s the nice part,” he said. “(Firefighters) took the dog and put it in my truck because it was hot out. And they rolled the windows down and put food and water in it.”

Bryant said they originally thought the problem was the generator because it had been running.

“When we shut the generator off, we opened up everything, cleared the place out,” he said. “There was nothing in there. We had our monitor and walked everywhere.”

This time, however, the refrigerator was firing and running, which is why Bryant was able to detect it as the culprit.

“The problem with CO is that there’s no warning signs,” Reed said. “It’s odorless, colorless. You don’t have a bad taste in your mouth. It slowly accumulates and builds up, and that’s the problem. That’s why you need a detection system to really see it.”

He said things that produce CO that you really do not think about include propane ovens and stoves, pellet wood stoves and propane and kerosene heaters that are not vented.

“Listen to your body if you’re not feeling well,” Sue said. “Pay attention to those signs and symptoms.”

In appreciation to the efforts of the firefighters, Sue said they would be making a donation to the Rumford Firefighters Relief Association.

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