In another, unrelated event, a fire department in Iowa responded to a "person not breathing" call at Mercy Medical Center to find that what seemed to be a routine event was actually a hazardous materials event. Sodium Hydroxide...a laundry additive...was leaking. Responders began working on the victim then noticed the leak. Four other civilians who were in the area and several firefighters were evaluated in the emergency department as a result. It is not clear if the leak caused the victims death.
Lessons Learned and Reinforced:
- Response to medical facilities, including walk-in or urgent care centers, can not be taken lightly or considered to be routine. The additional hazards associated with these locations have to be considered in preincident planning and responders must size-up with a high level of suspicion.
- The need for decon may exist wherever people go for help. Many emergency departments have some form of decontamination equipment or facility...few, if any walk-in care/urgent care centers have decon equipment or the trained people to carry out the activity. Expect this type of situation to occur more frequently.
- Understand the logistics behind the confinement or "quarantine" of otherwise well civilians...those who do not have any symptoms, yet give you reason to believe they may have exposure. This group to can be difficult to manage as compared to those who actually have symptoms.