The first signs of strides appeared Tuesday morning at the Happy Smiles Learning Center in Allentown when a boy got up from his seat in what was known as the “comfort area” and ran across the room. It was when I fell on the way.
Daycare employees at 471 Wabash St. called 911 for help and attempted to resuscitate him. As emergency medical technicians arrived, a monitor attached to the medical bag rang, alerting them to the presence of carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless and potentially deadly gas. Further testing with a carbon monoxide gas meter showed it to be present at a concentration of 700 ppm. This is more than three times his threshold for possible death.
EMT evacuated 25 children and 8 employees, eventually taking 27 people to 4 hospitals in the area for testing. Other children were taken in by their parents for treatment, said Allentown Fire Chief John Christopher.
Some patients were discharged, while others were sent to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia because they had particularly high levels of CO in their blood, said Dr. Andrew Miller, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Lehi, in a statement. Valley Health Network.
They receive hyperbaric therapy, which involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. Excessive levels of gas can damage the brain and heart, Miller says, so it’s essential to quickly replace the CO in your blood with oxygen.
Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest has received 14 children and two adult patients, while Lehigh Valley Hospital-17th Street has received three children, Miller said. Some were unresponsive and ranged in age from a few months to 10 years, he said. Their symptoms included headache, dizziness and nausea.
“All patients had elevated CO levels in their blood,” said Miller. “Levels ranged from three times his to 10 times what is considered normal. All were treated with 100% oxygen for at least four to six hours, with CO levels being closely monitored. “
Four children and one adult were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital Sacred Heart in Allentown, but all are in stable condition, said Sam Kennedy, spokesperson for St. Luke. Six children and he two adults were taken to St. Luke’s Allentown and were in stable condition.
The call for help came at 7:30 am. Given the number of people affected, authorities declared a mass casualty incident, with ambulances from all of Allentown and more from surrounding municipalities.
Jesenia Gautreaux, owner of Happy Smiles, which founded the center four years ago, was at home when staff called to say her boy had collapsed. He was in an ambulance when she arrived at the daycare minutes later. He looked sick, but he gave her the thumbs up, she said.
“He was a little dizzy,” she said, adding that other children were crying as they evacuated the building.
“I think they scared and worried their friends,” she said.
Carbon monoxide above 70 ppm can cause headaches, fatigue and nausea. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Concentrations above 150-200 ppm may cause disorientation, unconsciousness, and death.
Natural gas company UGI Utilities arrived shortly after 7:45 a.m., said company spokesman Joe Swope. Upon investigation, the cause of the leak was determined to be a faulty heating unit and a clogged ventilation system. Multiple workers responded from the power company and shut down the system, he said, Swope.
“It would need to be repaired,” he said, adding that no odors of natural gas were detected.
Christopher said the center does not have a carbon monoxide detector, but it is not required. In response to the incident, Senator Wayne Fontana of the Pittsburgh Area sent a message to the state legislature urging them to pass Senate Bill 129, now in the House Health Committee. The law requires childcare facilities to have battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors.
Gautreaux said there are plans to install such detectors.
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“I recommend everyone have one,” Christopher said. “We’ve been pushing it for years.”
In a Facebook post, the Allentown Fire Department said calls have increased each year as people start running furnaces in colder weather. should be checked annually, the post said.
A sign on the daycare door said it was out of business. Gautreau said the furnace will be repaired and will reopen as soon as possible.
Daycares typically have about 40 children each day, ranging from 9 months to 12 years old. It had been closed since Friday due to the Columbus Day holiday.
An inspection conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services when the license was renewed last fall found only one fire safety issue. The door was left locked when the fire alarm went off. The center repaired the door. No sanctions have been imposed for any of the issues, according to the report.
Staff writer Anthony Salamon contributed to this report.
This article has been updated to reflect that the law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in childcare facilities is still in a House committee and has not been passed.
https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-nws-carbon-monoxide-leak-allentown-20221011-t5v2leue2ra67olqvcbg43mu7a-story.html#ed=rss_www.mcall.com/arcio/rss/category/news/local/ Carbon monoxide leak sends two dozen to hospital in Allentown Daycare