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Challenges During a Chlorine Gas Emergency Response

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2016

Bryan E. Christensen
Affiliation:
Epidemic Intelligence Service, Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
Mary Anne Duncan*
Affiliation:
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia
Sallyann C. King
Affiliation:
Epidemic Intelligence Service, Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
Candis Hunter
Affiliation:
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia
Perri Ruckart
Affiliation:
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia
Maureen F. Orr
Affiliation:
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia
*
Correspondence and reprint requests to Mary Anne Duncan, DVM, MPH, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Highway NE, MS F-57, Atlanta, GA 30341 (e-mail: maduncan@cdc.gov).

Abstract

Objective

A chlorine gas release occurred at a poultry processing plant as a result of an accidental mixing of sodium hypochlorite and an acidic antimicrobial treatment. We evaluated the public health and emergency medical services response and developed and disseminated public health recommendations to limit the impact of future incidents.

Methods

We conducted key informant interviews with the state health department; local fire, emergency medical services, and police departments; county emergency management; and representatives from area hospitals to understand the response mechanisms employed for this incident.

Results

After being exposed to an estimated 40-pound chlorine gas release, 170 workers were triaged on the scene and sent to 5 area hospitals. Each hospital redistributed staff or called in extra staff (eg, physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists) in response to the event. Interviews with hospital staff emphasized the need for improved communication with responders at the scene of a chemical incident.

Conclusions

While responding, hospitals handled the patient surge without outside assistance because of effective planning, training, and drilling. The investigation highlighted that greater interagency communication can play an important role in ensuring that chemical incident patients are managed and treated in a timely manner. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:553–556)

Type
Brief Reports
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2016 

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References

1. Toxic Substances Portal - Chlorine. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/TP.asp?id=1079&tid=36. November 2010. Accessed January 11, 2016.Google Scholar
2. Winder, C. The toxicology of chlorine. Environ Res. 2001;85:105-114.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
3. Van Sickle, D, Wenck, MA, Belfower, A, et al. Acute health effects after exposure to chlorine gas released after a train derailment. Am J Emerg Med. 2009;27:1-7.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
4. Assessment of Chemical Exposures (ACE) program. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ntsip/ace.html. Accessed January 11, 2016.Google Scholar
5. National Toxic Substance Incidents Program (NTSIP). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ntsip/. Accessed January 11, 2016.Google Scholar
6. Whitlow, A, Louie, S, Mueller, C, et al. Chlorine gas release associated with employee language barrier — Arkansas, 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012;61(48):981-985.Google Scholar
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