2:30 pm Late this afternoon, some sort of chemical release occurred in the swimming pool at ROCORI High School. Unofficially about a dozen students were treated with oxygen and then transported to the St. Cloud Hospital for further observation. No one appears to be seriously injured.
Local authorities are now sending in testing crews to find out exactly what happened and how the situation can be remedied.
More on this story to follow....
3:30 News Conference
Firefighter and Mayor Doug Schmitz gave further details as to the happenings this afternoon. As reported earlier the incident took place in the ROCORI High School pool area about 1:30 pm this afternoon. The emergency personnel were contacted at 1:41 pm when two of the students reported some difficulty with breathing.
The building was immediately cleared of all students and staff. A "hot zone" was created for all who were experiencing problems and needed treatment. Students who had not be affected by the possible chlorine accident were moved to near by Cold Spring Elementary and directed to the gymnasium there.
A hazardous materials team arrived from St. Cloud at 2:22 pm.
A total of 37 students and one staff member were involved with the afternoon emergency. Four victims were transported to the Paynesville hospital and the rest went to St. Cloud Hospital including one by air ambulance.
What happens to chlorine in the body?
When chlorine enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing,
or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce acids. The acids are
corrosive and damage cells in the body on contact.
What are the immediate health effects of chlorine exposure?
Most harmful chlorine exposures are the result of inhalation. Health
effects typically begin within seconds to minutes. Following chlorine
exposure, the most common symptoms are:
The severity of health effects depend upon the route of exposure,
the dose and the duration of exposure to chlorine. Breathing high
levels of chlorine causes fluid build-up in the lungs, a condition
known as pulmonary edema. The development of pulmonary edema may be
delayed for several hours after exposure to chlorine. Contact with
compressed liquid chlorine may cause frostbite of the skin and eyes.
What can you do if you think you may have been exposed to a release of chlorine?
If you have been exposed to a release of chlorine, take the following steps:
Quickly move away from the area where you think you were exposed. If the release was indoors, go outdoors.
If you are near a release of chlorine, emergency coordinators may
tell you to either evacuate the area or to "shelter in place." To
"shelter in place" means to remain indoors to avoid being exposed to
the chemical. While indoors, shut and lock all doors and windows, turn
off air conditioners, fans and heaters, and close fireplace dampers.
Quickly remove any clothing that may have chlorine on it. If
possible, clothing that is normally removed over the head (like
t-shirts and sweaters) should be cut off the body to prevent additional
contact with the agent.
Place your clothing inside a plastic bag and seal the bag tightly.
Do not handle the plastic bag, and wait for instructions on proper disposal.
Disposing of your clothing in a sealed bag helps protect you and other people from additional exposure.
Store the bagged clothing in a secure location away from people, especially children.
Quickly wash any chlorine from your skin with large amounts of soap and water, and flush your eyes with large amounts of water.
Remove and dispose of contact lenses.
Wash eyeglasses with soap and water before wearing.
If needed, seek medical attention right away.
How is chlorine exposure treated?
To limit health effects from exposure to chlorine, wash eyes and skin as quickly as possible with large amounts of water.
There is no antidote for chlorine poisoning, but chlorine's effects
are treatable, and most people recover. People who experience serious
health effects (such as severe eye or airway irritation, severe
coughing, difficulty breathing, pulmonary edema) may need hospital care.