PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Providence police officer was taken to the hospital Saturday after his cruiser’s carbon monoxide detector went off.
The CO detectors were installed in 43 Providence police SUVs in June; the department said this is the first time one has alerted an officer to a buildup of the gas.
“It actually went on and off, on and off,” Providence Police Commander Thomas Verdi told Eyewitness News. “He felt a little dizzy.”
The officer drove himself to a nearby fire station and was taken to the hospital, where a test revealed low levels of CO in his bloodstream. Carbon monoxide in high concentrations can cause confusion, vomiting and even death.
Verdi said the officer is recovering and his SUV was taken out of service for repairs.
The CO detectors look like cellphone chargers and plug into the cruiser’s dash. When CO is present, they flash red and beep.
The $15 devices were installed following complaints from police departments across the country that CO was leaking into the cabins of Ford Interceptors. In Auburn, Mass., six officers were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning — one passed out behind the wheel and crashed his cruiser. Now departments like Warwick, Cranston, Woonsocket, Central Falls and the Rhode Island State Police are installing the devices.
Verdi said there had been no previous complaints from his officers of CO leaks, but he is glad that the vehicles now have the detectors.
“Hopefully we do not have any more incidents,” he said.
Ford believes the leaks are caused by non-manufacturer equipment installations that require holes to be drilled near the exhaust. When those holes are not properly filled, CO can leach into the cabin, according to Ford.
The automobile manufacturer has offered to pay for repairs to the police SUVs, and said drivers of non-law-enforcement Explorers should “have no reason to be concerned.”