Doctor who 'likely saved' numerous lives by warning of carbon monoxide leak honoured in Saskatoon
SASKATOON -- An emergency room doctor whose quick thinking led to the evacuation of a Saskatoon apartment building is credited with potentially saving lives was honoured Monday afternoon.
Around 6 p.m. Thursday, Dr. Mark Wahba reported a potential carbon monoxide (CO) issue, asking for a check on the building located on Bateman Crescent after observing symptoms in a patient.
The tip led to the evacuation of the building and medical treatment for dozens of residents, including many children, who had been exposed to high levels of CO due to a problem in the building's boiler room.
During a virtual ceremony planned Saskatoon Fire Department Chief Morgan Hackl presented Wahba with an Award of Merit for his role in identifying the issue.
"Was it intuition, was it conscious thought? No matter what it was, what you decided (to do) that day did save lives. In fact, you likely saved numerous people's lives," Hackl said.
"Your actions speak to the culture in our community that we all are so proud of."
After receiving his citation, Wahba said he was "humbled" and was quick to share credit with the "bigger emergency services team," and the fire department and EMS for their work at the scene.
Wahba said he lives in the Greystone Heights neighbourhood where the building is located and grew emotional as he spoke about feeling a personal connection to the incident.
"For me, the building involved is two blocks out my window here," Wahba said.
"My son's in class with one of the kids in that building."
Wahba also said a close friend lost her brother and sister to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The building had no CO sensors installed. The devices were not required under the current building code because it wasn't built after 2009, the fire department said on Friday.
"I hope moving forward that we can get carbon monoxide detectors in all homes and buildings in the province. I don't know why it's only buildings after 2009. I can't understand that," Wahba said.
Amit Kotwani, along with his wife and six-year-old daughter, was among the dozens of people sent to hospital.
“I was told that if I stayed one more night over here, I would have died,” Kotwani told CTV News on Friday.
Kotwani said his apartment unit is located next to the boiler room, where the highest CO levels were detected.
Residents of another building in the complex were also evacuated after the fire and gas inspector on scene discovered an issue with the boiler in their building.