Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

1999 Darwin Awards

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

Laughing Gas
1999 Darwin Award Winner Confirmed True by Darwin

Three round
buttons labeled, O 2 oxygen, Air, N 2 O Nitrous Oxide.  They are buttons on
a medical device.

(16 April 1999, Washington DC) Darwin Award wannabee's know how valuable a good paramedic is. After a near miss, who you gonna call? Bad news. There are two fewer medics around to save us.

Mark T was a proud 10-year paramedic with the DC Fire Department. Carol S was studying to be an EMT for the Fire Department. Science and medicine were their best tools. So certainly these two were familiar with the science of nitrous oxide gas.

Laughing gas N2O is a common and popular relaxant in dental offices. Loved on the street for its short-lived high with no after-effects. But speaking of short-lived... there is something you need to know about nitrous.

Every pure gas must be mixed with oxygenated air before you use it as your main supply. Without oxygen, any pure gas will cause suffocation. That is the law. You can volunteer to breathe other gases, but you need 21% Oxygen O2 or you will die.

Unfortunately, these two adults forgot. In the comfort of their suburban home, Carol and Mark sealed respiratory masks onto their faces and plugged into a canister of nitrous. Sadly they were found dead still wearing the masks attached to the silver bottles. Mark was only 40 years, Carol was only 30 years on the planet.

What makes these two extraordinary candidates for the coveted Darwin Award, is that BOTH had enough medical training to know better. The DC Fire Department PIO said Mark was "one of the most educated and highly trained people we had."

Info about N2O and performance motors. © 1994 - 2022

Submitted by: Matthew Tallmer

Reference: Washington Post

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 Wendy Answers:
Joseph you are absolutely right. My comment struck a nerve, and rightly so. I value paramedics and have rewritten my account to be more respectful. But all the same, I don't want two questionable thinkers like this strapping my face to a tank of gas on the way to the ER. I hope this sad outcome for Mark and Carol, helped guide others away from harm."

Previous Directions Next