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May 29, 2014

TRMC treats Turner County workers exposed to chlorine gas

TIFTON — After several Turner County workers were exposed to chlorine gas Wednesday afternoon and had to be transported to Tift Regional Medical Center, only one patient had to be admitted to the hospital and is in good condition, says Joy Davis, TRMC's community relations coordinator.

Davis confAfter several Turner County workers were exposed to chlorine gas Wednesday afternoon and had to be transported to Tift Regional Medical Center, only one patient had to be admitted to the hospital and is in good condition, says Joy Davis, TRMC's community relations coordinator.

Davis confirmed in an e-mailed statement to The Tifton Gazette that an exposure to chlorine gas at Dan King Farms in Rebecca sent 19 employees to TRMC's emergency room at approximately 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The employees were brought to the hospital by Emergency Medical Services from Turner and Ben Hill counties.

Davis said the TRMC Emergency Response Team set up a decontamination station just outside the emergency room and the patients were treated for respiratory symptoms inside. After several hours of observation, only one patient had to be admitted to the hospital and is in good condition. The others were treated and released.

TRMC conducts a risk analysis each year to identify potential disasters that could affect the hospital and hosts numerous drills each year to prepare for such emergencies, says Davis. The chemical exposure emergency was identified as a possible event and the hospital recently did a drill to prepare.

Due to their preparation and readiness, Davis said the emergency response team, employees, physicians and command staff did an excellent job, and the incident ran smoothly.

Turner County EMS Director Robby Royal told The Gazette that an employee at Dan King Farms added an acid reducer to a bucket that he thought contained about an inch of water. However, he realized that it was liquid chlorine when it started creating a small smoke cloud.

"They disposed of it properly," said Royal. He noted three people were in the immediate area and showed symptoms of inhaling the chlorine gas.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:15 p.m. Royal said they were dispatched at about 3:12 p.m. when employees started getting sick. He said Turner County EMS transported a total of 10 employees, and Ben Hill County EMS assisted, transporting six employees.

"All were stable," he said, adding only three showed signs of ill effect from the gas. Royal noted Worth County EMS also assisted by covering the county while Turner's ambulances were tied up.

He said Ashburn fire emergency services provided a Hazardous Materials technician, but they didn't have to do a hazmat cleanup at Dan King Farms. They made sure the area was well-ventilated. Royal said the employees had handled the incident appropriately.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

 

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