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Our engine boss is cramming for the Captain’s exam when the bells ring for a call at the golf course.  A HazMat at the golf course.  This could be interesting…


Multiple calls for multiple sick persons, unknown cause.



There are a few things we look for on the way to these types of calls, right?  There was no smoke, or cloud, and we approach from upwind, despite the requests from local law enforcement to pull up to the main entrance with him.  However, his skin remained intact and he was conscious, so our trusty litmus officer was helping in an odd way.

There were, however, 2 things that had me curious on our approach.  First, the ambulance had arrived before us and was staged across the street.  Second, there was a line of cars exiting the parking lot in a hurry.

Something was up.


We parked upwind at a hydrant so we could hook in and mass decon if needed.  Airpacks went on and the triage kit came out of the side compartment.  I was having trouble resetting my mind from being the EMS supervisor the day before, to being part of the engine company today.  Part of me wanted to establish the warm zone and set up the decon corridor while also designing ambulance ingress and egress.

Instead I had to find out what on earth spooked an entire golf course to run like hell on a beautiful California afternoon.

The remaining people near the clubhouse are pointing and giggling at the firemen approaching taking full precautions as we’re shouting for them to remain still and tell us wha on earth is going on.

As with most emergencies of this nature, their first action was to come towards us.  Great.

“In the kitchen,” a man with a name tag tells us, “Pepper spray.”


Around the side of the building is a person with a wet towel on their face and a group of white shirt, checkered pants clad folks, clearly the kitchen staff.

Someone thought it would be funny to release some pepper spray into the kitchen during the lunch rush.

When the entire staff ran out of the kitchen screaming and rubbing heir eyes, the patrons thought the worst and did the exact wrong thing.

They dispersed themselves across the City and the region before we had identified what had happened.  Perhaps they understood it was pepper spray, but none of the non-kitchen staffers were able to tell us what had happened, so I doubt that.

Now imagine it was somehow something more sinister and all 300 people escaped without being decontaminated.  There you are in your district running a general sick call.  She mentions being in San Francisco a few hours ago on a golf weekend that went sour.  Then the husband vomits and passes out.

Worst case scenario sure, but we deal in those sometimes.

Any ideas on how to stop those evacuating?  And don’t say PD, because remember, he’s already in the hot zone.

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  1. John May 24, 2011 7:50 pm

    I’ve tried explain this to our chiefs. By the time the decon trailer gets pulled out by a member paged from home you might as well set it up at the closest hospital instead of the scene. Everyone who can be gone will be, and the ones who do wait for you will leave when you try to make them undress outdoors for decon.

  2. Rob M. May 25, 2011 12:58 am

    If I remember correctly, one of the 1st actions is to deny access. I think that also includes denying egress. No need to rush into the scene. One of the 1st in companies should be blocking the exit so the sheeple don’t run off & contaminate others.

  3. TraumaPig May 31, 2011 5:37 am

    You know what they say, the “Hot zone” is 500 feet behind the closest dead police officer 🙂

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