December 16, 2011
At 3:15 pm a 59-year-old man arrived home at 4924 NE 47th Ave. from a week-long, out-of-town job working on a crane. He reportedly called his wife and let her know he was going to try to get some grease stains out of his coat when he got home.
When his wife arrived home at 6:20 pm she was immediately overwhelmed by the odor of what smelled like paint thinner in the house. She went to look for her husband and found him in a bathtub soaked with what appeared to be a solvent-based chemical. She immediately called 9-1-1. AMR paramedics arrived first on scene and found that the man was semi-conscious. Holding their breath, the paramedics took the patient out to the front yard to render first aid.
A crew from PF&R's Station 28 (Hollywood) arrived at the scene, removed all the patient's clothes and placed him in a HazMat suit. The patient has severe chemical burns on over 70% of his body.
Portland Firefighter/Paramedic, David Paul, reported that he was so overwhelmed by fumes that he and the other paramedics wore gas masks in the ambulance while riding with the patient to the Oregon Burn Center.
After the patient was transported, Station 28 firefighters investigated the bathroom and found a three gallon bucket with about two cups of solvent left inside. Engine 28 used gas fans to clear the house of fumes for the next 30 minutes. PF&R Station 7 (Mill Park) HazMat Firefighters were consulted and are working to identify the chemical used to clean the coat. Reports indicate that the bathroom was very small and not ventilated.
According to Paul, "Chemical burns are extremely dangerous, and in some cases can be deadly. Citizens should always wear protective gear while working with hazardous chemicals and use them only in well ventilated areas."Photos courtesy of Greg Muhr, Portland Fire & Rescue.
Portland Fire & Rescue