Four Workers Take Ill, One Critically, From Fumes in Airport Utility Room

Monday, October 31, 2022

Four workers took ill, one critically, following an accidental release of carbon dioxide within a utility room at Los Angeles International Airport Monday morning.


The Los Angeles Fire Department was summoned at 7:02 AM on October 31, 2022 by Los Angeles Airport Police, to respond to a remote and non-public subterranean electric utility room, more than 200' from the Terminal 8 Baggage Claim area, where an unexpected alarm and discharge of carbon dioxide from a fire suppression system had occurred, displacing oxygen from the room. 

In less than 5 minutes, an LAFD Paramedic Engine Company arrived at the end an outlying hallway, fully attired in protective gear, to discover that four adult contract workers, one woman and three men, had reportedly been in the room when the release occurred without evidence of a fire, explosion or electrical  issue..  

Though the woman and two of the men were able to safely exit the room, their 36 year old male colleague did not, and was soon discovered prone on the floor by firefighters - who were able to immediately enter the room due to their protective gear, which included self-contained breathing apparatus.

Finding the injured worker unresponsive and determining there were no other persons in peril, the firefighter and firefighter/paramedic carried the man across the room and up a short flight of stairs to the safer oxygen rich environment of the hallway, where they quickly confirmed him to be pulse-less and non-breathing. 

With the timely and skilled hands-on assistance of Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Airport Police Officers assisting them with CPR, the LAFD Paramedic crew, soon joined by other LAFD responders, immediately began advanced life support measures at the scene and during the man's ambulance transport to an area hospital, where he arrived in critical condition, though with his pulse and spontaneous breathing restored. 

The three other workers were medically evaluated by LAFD Paramedics, and declined further treatment or ambulance transportation.

No other injuries were reported.

With 54 Los Angeles Firefighters now at the scene, including an LAFD Hazardous Materials Task Force, the environment in and near the utility room was formally evaluated, to confirm there was no escalating or off-site hazard, as only trace elements of carbon dioxide remained.

To further stabilize the scene, LAFD responders strategically deployed portable ventilation fans to introduce fresh air into the involved area, and exhaust any contaminants.

Los Angeles County Health Department officials were summoned to further evaluate the scene and coordinate any remaining environmental issues.

Pursuant to protocol, this workplace related emergency will be the focus of a formal investigation by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA.


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