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THMG173 – Listener Mail Bag


In this episode, Bob and Mike dig into their mailbag to answer a few questions submitted by listeners.

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Complete Show Notes

7:50 Refrigerants Question

Do you have any experience with old refrigerants, such as sulfur dioxide? We seem to have had a few runs for them as of late. Similar PPE as ammonia at Level A? Also, when you talk about refrigerants and using a sniffer, do you have an example of what kind of sniffer? Just one for simple, natural gasses addressing LEL? Do the halogenated hydrocarbons get picked up on the gas sniffer?

  • Natural gas meter won’t pick up halogenated hydrocarbons, since they usually don’t have a flammable range
  • However, there are meters out there that act similar to natural gas meters (but use different technologies) that will pick up halogenated hydrocarbons
  • Mike has only done residential runs for sulfur dioxide – usually in old refrigerators in people’s basements
  • Like most refrigerants, once there’s a break in the line, it all leaks out – one exception Mike encountered was a pinhole leak that was slowly leaking sulfur dioxide
  • Wasn’t enough of a concentration to warrant Level A, so Mike’s team wore bunker gear and SCBA for all three runs
  • Biggest struggle was getting the refrigerators out of the basement after the hazard had been mitigated
  • Dismantled refrigerator out in the open and let sanitation take it away
  • Ventilated basements afterwards with positive-pressure fans and SCBA cylinders to get air moving around
  • Sulfur dioxide isn’t flammable, so there’s no LEL or UEL to worry about
  • Target organs with sulfur dioxide are the eyes, skin, and respiratory system – IDLH is 100 ppm

20:05 Chemical Suicides Question

What should EMS do while hazmat teams are mitigating? What’s our role in terms of hot zone patient contact when you’re on scene? What would you look for us to do? Would I evacuate the immediate area, call hazmat bosses, or sit tight and wait for the proper updates to come in?

  • Important to know what level EMS is trained to – operations should stay outside the hot zone for life safety
  • Method of chemical suicide is also important – always pay close attention to the direction of the wind and evacuate downwind
  • Keep tabs on your meters at all times, since conditions can change quickly and frequently
  • If the person is obviously dead, make sure it’s a recovery, not a rescue – don’t waste any extra time in the hot zone
  • Bob recommends putting victim into a splash suit to limit their off-gassing in the ambulance
  • Mike recommends getting them cleaned up before you put them into the ambulance for the hospital’s sake
  • EMTs should wear SCBA during transport and have extra cylinders so they can swap out when necessary
  • Don’t hesitate to change your PPE (or the victim’s) as necessary to keep yourself safe

Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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