Friday, September 20, 2013

Noxious fumes send 47 elementary students and staff to area hospitals

Incident Date:  9/20/13
Issuing Officer:  Joe Meinecke
Incident Location:  5830 S. Pine St.
Incident Type:  Hazardous Materials 

Narrative:  At 9:34 AM, a single engine company was dispatched for a reported odor investigation at Edison Elementary School. Upon arrival firefighters noticed a heavy odor in the building and with students and staff reporting feeling light headed and nauseated they quickly upgraded the incident to Hazardous Materials Mass-Casualty-Incident, bringing numerous resources to the scene.  

Operationally, a triage center was established in the playground while the entire school was evacuated. Medics evaluated about 50 students and staff and 18 of those patients were transported by private ambulance to area hospitals and 29 were transported by a school bus to an area hospital for evaluation. All patients were transported for precautionary reasons and there were no serious injuries to report from the incident.

Hazardous materials crews helped ventilate the building and used air monitoring equipment to determine that the air quality was within normal limits around 11:30 AM. Students unaffected by the incident were allowed back in the building to resume their school day by about noon.    

Preliminary indications are that a leaf blower being used for some maintenance on the roof of the structure allowed noxious fumes to enter an HVAC air intake, where it was distributed inside the school with varying levels of concentration.