THMG301 – Sick building

Though not done frequently, this call type can be frustrating for people in Hazmat. Take a listen for some tricks and tips on how to handle these quickly and efficiently.

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  1. A sick building call can be some of the most frustrating runs we go on. Weather your in a single family dwelling or a muli apartment building trying to nail down the cause of a people sick can be difficult. 
    1. This pressure is even harder giving the limited ability of many of our tools. And the expectation that “hey we called hazmat they should be able to fuigure out anything. 
  2. Don’t under estimate the power of a binary reaction. 
    1. House hold chemical that people mix during cleaning
    2. Mixing chemicals to clear pipes
    3. Mixing chemicals for pools….. 
      1. Yes for thouse of you scratch your head there are areas of the country where indoor pools are prevelent inside large residential building. 
    4. Binary reactions can be intenitial such as pest removal. 
      1. This is a great question to ask someone who would know. What is nice about many pesticides is that they will give us strong hits are out ap4c. Don’t have an ap4c then get one. 
  3. Keep you eye open for illigal activity. 
    1. Methlabs
    2. Synthetic marijuana
    3. Fentynol
    4. Explosive labs
      1. Or even just a guy trying to make fire works
  4. Have the same person interview victims and resistance. Then have someone else do it again. Interview people separately. This is a huge mistake we make sometime. It’s entirely possible for the answer one person gives to influence the answer of others. Since we are looking for similar issues we want to make sure that they are coming up with the stuff on there own. Other wise what might look like a mass causity event is really just a bunch of people thinking they have an issue when they dont. 
  5. Compare signs and symptoms if people are sick.
  6. If your looking threw chemicals that are stored in the building, especially if it’s commercial, think about tackling chemicals with low odor thresholds. This is especially true if the building is large. Many times orders of chemicals will trigger symptoms. If the odor threshold is low there is a good chance that your meter will not Pic it up. One of the best ways to do this is to Google odor threshold and the name of the chemical. 
  7. Map out location of people with symptoms or that are complain of smells. Where were they. Often there is common theme. For example in and apartment building everone in b apartment is feeling I’ll. The common thread would be the pipe work and voids that would allow vapors or gasses to travel. 
    1. In one instance it was everyone who was near the elivator. Giving us reason to belive the elivator shaft was the Conduit of the chemical. Which unlimitly lead us next to a room in a sub basement next to the shaft that someone had mixed then burned chemicals. 
  8. Check your confermation bias. It is very easy on runs like this be exited that you might have an idea. It’s becomes very difficult for you to see that your idea is bad. 
    1. Set up a system with your team members. Let’s say me and Bob are going in togeather. He has an idea, it’s my job to prove it wrong. And vice versa. If he can’t find reasons why my idea is flawed then it might be valid
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