NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Emergency personnel responded to a ruptured liquid oxygen tank at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital early Friday evening. No one was injured when the tank ruptured.
“There's no hazard now,” said Keith Kiplinger, the chief of the Nacogdoches Fire Department. “Everything's good.”
Kiplinger said the Nacogdoches Fire Department was paged out to the incident at approximately 6:13 p.m. Friday. He said the remaining oxygen in the tank has dissipated harmlessly into the atmosphere after the tank ruptured. The company who handles the hospital's liquid oxygen supply has a crew on its way to repair the tank, Kiplinger said.
“Everyone reacted just exactly as we would hope they would,” said Scott Street, Memorial Hospital CEO. “Our staff and local emergency services responded with an abundance of caution until we were able to determine that there was no threat to the neighborhood or our patients and visitors, making sure everyone steered clear of the area until we knew it was safe. They followed our protocols for handling just such a situation, the same way we practice in our emergency drills several times a year.”
The fire chief said no one was injured as a result of the leak, and no one had to be evacuated from the surrounding area.
Kiplinger said the Nacogdoches Fire Department and the Police Department cordoned off the area around the hospital. In addition, the fire crews eliminated any possible ignition sources in the immediate area by doing things like turning out the pilot lights in the hospital's kitchen.
“At approximately 6 p.m. this evening, Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital experienced a minor rupture of a liquid oxygen tank on the west side of the building,” a press release stated. “This resulted in the release of liquid oxygen and an interruption within the oxygen supply lines of the hospital. The nursing house supervisor activated emergency response measures, notifying local fire and police departments, as well as key members of our staff. “
Kim Barton, a spokeswoman for Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital said that within 10 minutes of the rupture, three patients who were on ventilators were transferred to a nearby hospital. In addition, traffic was diverted away from the hospital as a safety precaution.
The company who handles the hospital's liquid oxygen supply has a crew on its way to repair the tank, Kiplinger said. The press release stated that as soon as the remainder of the oxygen in the tank evaporates, repairs will be made, and a replacement tank will be installed.
“We'll begin routing our second source of oxygen as soon as possible,” Street explained. “In the meantime, we're using temporary tank oxygen where needed. We should be back up with a steady source of oxygen within hours and a more permanent solution in place by Monday.”
A KTRE viewer sent in photos of a thick, white cloud of gas billowing around Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital and the area around it.
Steve Allen said he was unwinding on his front porch after a long day at work when he heard a loud noise.
“[I] didn't pay it much attention - construction going on over there,” Allen said in an e-mail message. “However, when the air was filled with the sounds of sirens coming from every direction, I looked over the porch rail and lo and behold, the first responders were just pulling up, and the area two blocks away was full of a rolling white gas.”
Allen said it seemed like just about every fire truck and police car in Nacogdoches was on the scene.
Kiplinger said that he anticipates that emergency personnel will remain on the scene for at least another hour.