The Darwin Awards

1999 Darwin Awards

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Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it.

Laughing Gas
1999 Darwin Award Winner Confirmed True by Darwin

(16 April 1999, Washington D.C.) We can thank our lucky stars that there are two fewer paramedics around. Carol and Mark were found dead in their suburban home by Mark's 14-year-old son. The couple were wearing respiratory masks attached to an empty canister of nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, produces a short-lived high, and is often used as a relaxant in dental offices and outpatient clinics. Like every other pure gas, it must be mixed with air or oxygen, lest it cause suffocation. Needless to say, Carol and Mark did not mix the nitrous oxide with air. What makes this story a true Darwin Award candidate is that both of the deceased had enough medical training to have known better. Mark was a 10-year veteran paramedic with the District of Columbia Fire Department. Carol was studying to become an emergency medical technician in a suburban fire department.

Even more amusing is a quote from the Washington D.C. Fire Department's public information officer, who said that Mark was "one of the most educated and highly trained people we had." That must alleviate the concerns of thousands of D.C. residents!

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Submitted by: Matthew Tallmer

Reference: Washington Post
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Joseph Oh Complains
"You have a great site; I've spent many an idle moment chuckling at the often antics of our fellow humans. I was however appalled to read one comment. Paramedics and EMTs are dedicated, hard-working men and women who do a difficult and thankless job, not for the pay (which is often poor) but to help their fellow man. To say that it is fortunate to have two fewer paramedics in the world is tasteless and ignorant, and the editor needs to keep that particular opinion off the air. The next time a family member has a medical emergency, let's hear him say that."

Darwin rebuts:
Joseph it's clear that the comment struck a nerve. I value paramedics, but I don't want two idiots like this strapping a nitrous oxide mask on my face..."

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