Two men injured by poisonous gas on fishing vessel
Rockland — Two men working on the fishing vessel Starlight, which was tied up at the bait shop on Front Street, were rushed to hospitals Friday, Aug. 23 after being overcome by poisonous gas in the hold of the vessel, according to Rockland Asst. Fire Chief Adam Miceli.
Miceli is not allowed to name the men involved because it was an EMS call.
He said one was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to a hospital in Bangor or Portland due to the severity of the exposure to the gas. The other was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport.
Firefighters believe it was hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas caused by decaying organic matter.
One man was overcome by fumes and fell as he began to descend into the hold of the vessel on a ladder. The other man went down into the vessel to help him and was overcome as well. Their shipmates then used air masks to go into the hold and rescue the two men, Miceli said.
Miceli said that when Rockland Fire and EMS arrived the two men had been rescued and were on the deck of the vessel rather than still in the hold. One was unconscious and the other, the man who went in second to help his shipmate, was up and around.
Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, flammable, extremely hazardous gas, according to information provided by Rockland Fire and EMS. It is associated with a "rotten egg" smell and is commonly called sewer or swamp gas. It can build up in confined spaces and is most concentrated closer to the ground.
In high concentrations, it can make it impossible for a person to breathe, put a person in a coma and/or cause death.
207 594-4401 ext. 122
Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast for 15 years.
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