BRUNSWICK, Ohio (WJW) – Motivated by a real-life mass casualty incident at a school in Pennsylvania, firefighters from multiple Medina County departments on Friday tested their skills and planning by staging a simulated carbon monoxide poisoning drill.
It was held at St. Ambrose School in Brunswick.
Asking students to simulate the symptoms related to CO poisoning, firefighters and medics, along with a MetroHealth medical helicopter, mimicked evacuating and venting the school while treating and transporting 30 students.
The drill comes after carbon monoxide poisoning at an Allentown, Pennsylvania pre-school, in which 27 students and five adults were transported to local hospitals.
“It started out as a single ill child and turned out into a mass casualty incident, so we reached out to the Allentown Fire Department, talked to their administrative staff, tried to learn from what shortfalls they came across,” said Brunswick Fire Chief Gregory Glauner.
Called the ‘silent killer’ because the gas cannot be seen or smelled, carbon monoxide becomes a greater concern this time of the year as furnaces start up for the season.
Just two weeks ago, an apartment building in Akron was evacuated because of a CO poisoning that sent ten people to the hospital and claimed the life of a 66-year-old woman who was visiting an apartment resident.
St. Ambrose Pastor, Fr. Bob Stec, welcomed the drill, hoping to help students not only be prepared should something similar happen there, but also to be able to take what they learn back home to their families.
“This is just one of those moments where, how do you keep yourself calm? How do you keep yourself prepared?” said Stec. “When you see something or feel something, you ought to say something.”
The drill included firefighters from Brunswick, Brunswick Hills, Hinkley and Valley City, as well as Brunswick Police who would be called on to assist with parents and traffic in the event of an actual incident at the school.
Glauner said the most important thing for everyone to take from the incident is the importance of having a working carbon monoxide detector in their homes and for those who have them to remember to change the batteries this weekend when we set our clocks back one hour.
“You know, you hope things run smooth and you don’t find anything, but the reality is that we always find some shortcomings and places to improve upon, which just helps us when that actual incident occurs,” said Brunswick Hills Fire Chief Anthony Strazzo