Hazardous materials team assists with chemical spill cleanup

ST. GEORGE — A small chemical spill of Xylene in a laboratory at Dixie Regional Medical Center brought a quick response from a St. George Fire Department’s hazmat team Thursday afternoon.

Two fire trucks packed with firefighters from the St. George Fire Department responded to the hospital after receiving a call reporting a chemical spill in the histology lab, St. George Fire Captain Tyler Talbot said.

The St. George Fire Department and Dixie Regional’s emergency management team responded to the Xylene spill and determined it to be minor, McKoye Mecham, communications specialist for Intermountain Healthcare, said.

Xylene is a hydrocarbon widely used in medical technology as a solvent. In histologist laboratories Xylene is used for tissue processing, staining and cover slipping, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Exposure to the substance can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and eye or skin contact. Exposure can cause irritation of the nose and throat, with symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. In higher doses it can cause depression of the central nervous system.

Firefighters and hazardous materials technicians respond to a small chemical spill at Dixie Regional Medical Center Thursday afternoon, St. George, Utah, Dec. 29, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Firefighters and hazardous materials technicians respond to a small chemical spill at Dixie Regional Medical Center Thursday afternoon, St. George, Utah, Dec. 29, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The St. George Fire Department’s Southwest Region Incident Response truck, or squad truck, also responded with two hazmat technicians, along with protective gear and apparatus to help with the cleanup.

Once on scene firefighters and hazardous materials response technicians went to the area where the spill was reported on the basement floor.

Dixie Regional Medical Center’s emergency management team was also called to the area immediately after the spill and initiated the containment before firefighters arrived, the captain said.

After assessing the situation it was determined that the spill was minor and was contained which allowed responders to safely clean and remove the potentially bio-hazardous substance from the facility quickly, he said.

Mecham said the incident was resolved without any injury to patients, employees or emergency personnel, adding:

The safety of our patients, their families and our employees is always our top priority. We are grateful for the quick action and efforts by our teams to keep everyone safe.

Talbot confirmed there were no injuries and complimented the emergency response team at Dixie Regional Medical Center, adding:

The hospital did a great job in isolating the problem and getting people out of the area,” he said.

The hospital was able to operate normally throughout the incident, with no risk to patients or employees, and other than the histology lab that was immediately evacuated after the spill, no other areas were evacuated.

All firefighters with the St. George Fire Department receive hazmat awareness and operations training, while other firefighters within the department are trained hazmat technicians.

“All of our firefighters have that basic training where we can isolate the hazard and make those areas safe and are able to assist the techs as they go down range to take care of whichever chemicals we are called out on,” Talbot said.

St. George Fire Department was established in 1936 and today includes eight stations, located geographically throughout the City of St. George. Firefighters respond to fires, EMS calls, hazmat incidents, technical rescues, vehicle extractions and other calls for assistance as needed within the city boundaries, which covers about 75 square miles and includes over 80,000 residents.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or first responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • .... December 29, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Great response from the hospital personnel to react as professionly as they did and of course the prompt response of the HazMat team. Job well done on both sides.

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