Firefighters Krista Harris (far left) and wife Cathy Van-Martin (back row, second from right) of Abbotsford rescued a mom and two kids who were unconscious in their vehicle on Boxing Day due to suspected carbon-monoxide poisoning. The pair are shown here with a contingent of firefighters to lobby at the legislature in Victoria.

Two off-duty firefighters were first to rescue mom and kids from car filled with fumes in Abbotsford

Pair pulled trio from vehicle on Boxing Day in case of suspected carbon-monoxide poisoning

The quick actions of two firefighters could be the reason that a mom and her two kids survived a case of suspected carbon-monoxide poisoning on Boxing Day in Abbotsford.

Cathy Van-Martin, a captain with the Burnaby Fire Department, and her wife Krista Harris, with Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS), were off duty on the evening of Dec. 26 when they were driving toward their home in Abbotsford.

They were heading west in the 33700 block of Clayburn Road not far from their residence when they spotted a car resting against a railing at about 8:20 p.m.

Van-Martin said the Toyota Corolla was running and there was a “lot of exhaust” spewing from the vehicle.

The couple immediately sensed that something wasn’t right, and they pulled in a few feet behind the Toyota.

They weren’t sure if anyone was in the vehicle – there were no streetlights in the area and the exhaust was partly obscuring their view.

“We discussed, as we were walking up, that we better be careful because we thought it was carbon monoxide, but it could have been something else,” Van-Martin said.

They carried a flashlight and held their breaths to keep from inhaling the toxic fumes as they approached the vehicle and, finding the doors locked, smashed in the windows with a hammer.

They discovered two small children in the back seat and a woman in the driver’s seat, all unresponsive.

That’s when the pair’s years of training and experience – 26 years for Van-Martin and 16 years for Harris – quickly kicked in full force.

Harris pulled out one of the children – later found to be five years old – while Van-Martin grabbed the second one, age 3, and laid them down on the roadway, with their car’s headlights illuminating the scene.

Van-Martin immediately began performing “rescue breathing” using a “pocket mask” on the younger child, while Harris pulled the woman from the vehicle. She then returned to the older child to begin life-saving measures.

RELATED: One woman, two children rushed to hospital after Abbotsford car crash

RELATED: Mom and kid in carbon-monoxide poisoning incident released from hospital

They also called 911, as did a passerby who had pulled over. The pair asked the man to direct traffic as they continued their emergency efforts.

An AFRS engine arrived on the scene quickly, and treatment began on the woman.

A second fire engine arrived, as did an ambulance, and Van-Martin estimates the first victim was on the way to hospital within 10 minutes.

The trio were initially pronounced in critical condition but that was upgraded to serious condition within a few days. The mom and the five-year-old were released from hospital on Thursday of this week.

The three-year-old remains in hospital in stable condition and is expected to be released early next week. Police say all three have a “positive” prognosis.

Van-Martin said she and Harris were “really happy” to hear the good news.

“They’ve been in our thoughts a lot,” she said.

Van-Martin credits everyone at the scene for the joyful outcome, as well as for the medical personnel caring for the trio in the hospital: “They must have worked a miracle.”

She is quick to dismiss any notions that she and Harris are heroes.

“For me, it was a combination of the right place and the right time,” Van-Martin said. “We did what we would have done as firefighters if we were on the job.”

Abbotsford Police Sgt. Judy Bird said earlier this week that an inspection of the Toyota Corolla will have to be conducted to find the source of the leak.

Just Posted

Paper Excellence finalizes deal to acquire Crofton’s Catalyst Paper

Sale includes Crofton mill, plus mills in Port Alberni and Powell River

Foundation being built for the new Chemainus library to become a cornerstone of the community

All the services and amenities in keeping with the modern age

VIDEO: Harpdog Brown grinds out the blues at Osborne Bay Pub March 22

With his new band, he’s still offering a vintage vibe, just a different vintage!

Malahat artists beautify Mill Bay ferry terminal

BC Ferries terminal at Mill Bay has been beautified thanks to new… Continue reading

City of Duncan contemplates expanding borders

Residents will be asked opinion in upcoming citizen’s survey

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Reeling Port Alice about to lose its only bank

Scotiabank branch closure follows latest mill setback, bad for business and the elderly

Most Read