Welcome to Durham County EMS

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Serving Durham Since 1975

Durham County Paramedics Detect Unsafe Carbon Monoxide Levels In Apartment Homes and Help Save Lives!

With colder temperatures here, carbon monoxide can be deadly.

Durham NC: A small investment in safety monitoring equipment is credited with saving many lives .

Just before 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night, December 15, a Durham County EMS unit and a Durham Fire Department engine were dispatched to a report of a person who had fainted. The patient had been communicating via “Facetime” with a friend outside of area, mentioned not feeling well, and lost consciousness. The friend notified Durham Emergency Communications, which initiated the emergency response.

Upon entering the building and approaching the patient’s apartment, the carbon monoxide monitor attached to the EMS crew’s “first 10 minute” bag sounded, and indicated a CO level in excess of 300 ppm – a significantly toxic level.1 Fire and EMS personnel evacuated the building, and called for additional assistance, including another ambulance, the hazardous materials team, and supervisory personnel. Firefighter’s donned protective breathing apparatus, placed a ladder to the involved apartment, confirmed the sick patient, and removed the patient from the building.

1. For healthy adults CO becomes toxic when it reaches a level higher than 35 ppm (parts per million) with continuous exposure over an eight hour period. When the level of CO becomes higher than that a person will suffer from symptoms of exposure. Mild exposure over 2-3 hours (a CO level between 35 ppm and 200 ppm) will produce flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes and a runny nose. Medium exposure (a CO level between 200 ppm to 800 ppm) will produce dizziness, drowsiness and vomiting in as little as 1 hour. This level of exposure is deemed to be life threatening once three hours has passed. Extreme exposure (a CO level of 800 ppm and higher) will result in unconsciousness, brain damage and death in as little as a few minutes.

Remaining residents were evacuated from the building to another building in the same complex as firefighters used meters to identify other areas of the complex with high levels of carbon monoxide. Master keys were used to open apartments where the doors were not answered, and one additional person who had been overcome was found, treated, and transported for hospital care. Both patients were sent to the hyperbaric chamber at Duke University Medical Center for specialized care. In all two buildings were found to have elevated CO levels, probably from a boiler used to heat the buildings in extremely cold conditions.

Durham County EMS added the ToxRae 3 carbon monoxide detectors, which cost $137 each, to its protective equipment at the beginning of last winter. The devices are intended, as they did, to prevent EMS personnel from entering in to an environment with dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which is colorless and odorless. “These EMS and fire personnel are responsible for saving an undetermined number of lives last evening,” said Durham County EMS Chief Skip Kirkwood. “If the initial crew had not been alerted, they might have been overcome themselves; or if they had merely evacuated their single patient, others might have become sick or died overnight. “We are glad that this small investment allowed us to not only protect our personnel from inadvertent CO exposure, but to also be alerted to the possibility of other people being exposed in the same building or complex,” he added.



The CO device is attached to the medics bag that comes in on all calls

For more information or safety tips to protect yourself from CO click here.




On December 9, we recognized the promotion of five members of our department to positons of greater responsibility.

EMS Officer I and academy instructors (Paramedic) Sara Houston and Max Patterson, EMS Officer I’s (Paramedic) Jason McBrayer, Reggie Austria and Matt Potter the rank of Paramedic Corporal (EMS Officer II). These new corporals will be primarily responsible for the field training of new employees. We congratulate them on their new role!

Sara Houston

Sara Houston pinned by her husband.

Max Partterson

Max Patterson pinned by his wife. 

Jason McBrayer

Jason McBrayer pinned by his mother.

Reggie Austria

Reggie Austria pinned by his wife.

Matt Potter

Matt Potter pinned by his wife.


On December 9, we recognized the promotion of Paramedic Corporal Nathan Sanders (EMS Officer II) to the rank of Lieutenant (Supervising EMS Officer I).

Nate will be in a leadership role on his shift and we congratulate him!

Nate Sanders

Nate Sanders being pinned by his wife.


Congratulations to Academy #13 !

A celebration was held on December 9th the main library to celebrate the graduation of Durham County EMS Academy #13 and their passage from student status to the streets of Durham.

The transition marks a significant point in the lives of the 16 new members of Durham EMS. For the last seven weeks, these EMS professionals have been instructed, and have demonstrated proficiency in, all the skills and knowledge that will be required of them as members of Durham County EMS. They came to us as EMTs and paramedics with varying levels of education and experience, and with the knowledge and skills to hold a state EMS credential. Over seven weeks’ time, they have learned something new – the Durham County EMS way. They will now be able to serve Durham County as members of the EMS team, able to fully integrate with their new colleagues.

We are proud of our academy staff and all the hard work they did to help make these 16 medics successful.

final picture



 We are looking for a few great paramedics!  

To apply click here!


 Looking to work at Durham EMS?  

Check Out "Our House"!




Congratulations to EMT Sarah Johnson for receiving the Crisis Intervention Team Medic of the Year award for EMS. Sarah was nominated by her peers.

Here is her nomination: 

Sarah Johnson has served as an EMT-Basic in Durham County EMS since July 2014. She was first introduced to the concept of CIT during her time in the EMS Academy. Recognizing that the CIT program greatly benefited the community she served, Sarah was eager to complete the training. She became a CIT Medic in March of 2016. Since that time, she has used the knowledge and skills she gained with all patients believing that everyone benefits from the compassion and understanding that CIT embodies. Sarah uses her CIT skills when not on calls too. She will talk to everyone. She gives water to the less fortunate standing on sidewalks or corners and always asks if they are okay, looking for ways to meet their needs. Her care and compassion are examples for everyone.

We are proud of Sarah and all of our CIT medics that take care of our community. 

WHAT IS CIT? It stands for Crisis Intervention Team. Durham First responders (law enforcement, communicators, medics, firefighters and detention officers) learn different techniques to assist individuals when dealing with people in distress or a mental health crisis. http://www.namidurham.org/



Durham EMS 2016 EMS Week Video!