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Hazmat called to KGH operating room

The Kelowna Fire Department responded to a hazardous material incident at Kelowna General Hospital shortly after 1:00 p.m., Thursday.

Platoon captain Dale Calhoun says upon arrival, emergency crews reported that a chemical called “Phenol” was spilled on the floor of one of the operating rooms on the first floor of ambulatory care.

A quick action to contain the spill was taken by hospital staff.

Phenol is used for surgical instrument antiseptic and also is used as an oral analgesic. Phenol is highly toxic and the fumes attack the respiratory system.

Hazmat 3, two engine companies, a command unit, rescue truck, hazardous material trailer and the hazardous material team all responded to the scene along with the BC Ambulance Service and the RCMP.

Canutec (Transport Canada) was also contacted as an emergency response advisor.

Consulting with Canutec and the hospitals engineer personal, the hazmat team entered the room in a level “B” suit, contained the chemical and removed it from the building. The spill area was cleaned and neutralized.

Calhoun added that one of the problems crews had to worry about was the lack of ventilation in the room.

A decontamination team was set up outside in the parking lot to clean the entry team from any further contamination. The spill was contained to a small area of the floor and the room remained closed for the rest of the day.

Three operating rooms were closed for approximately two hours to remove the chemical from the building. No evacuation was required and no injuries were reported.

Calhoun credited the actions of both the hospital staff and all emergency responders with helping to mitigate the emergency without incident. 

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