Carbon monoxide leak at Grand Valley arena hospitalizes 13 locals

March 23, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Marni Walsh

Dufferin paramedic Jason Dzikowski was off duty, playing hockey with friends at the Grand Valley arena on Sunday afternoon when he recognized that patrons were exhibiting signs consistent with carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

The Orangeville native, who has been with the Dufferin County Paramedic team for 11 years, contacted the Grand Valley Ambulance Station and it was quickly determined that a high level of CO was present.

“An evacuation of the facility was initiated and all emergency services were notified,” said Tom Reid, Chief of Dufferin County Paramedic Service. “Upon arrival the Grand Valley and District Fire Department determined that CO levels in some areas, including the ice surface, were in excess of 200 parts per million. The fire department shut down all fuel burning appliances (furnaces) and began ventilating the facility while paramedics triaged and treated those on scene. Initial reports indicated that numerous occupants were exposed.”

Dufferin County Clerk Pam Hillock said the County’s Emergency Management Co-ordinator, Steve Murphy, assisted the Town of Grand of Valley with coordinating the response.  Grand Valley’s municipal staff coordinated a centralized response at the Grand Valley Town Hall.

Four ambulances were used to transport 13 patients to hospitals in Orangeville, Fergus and Guelph and a fifth ambulance remained on standby to do assessments of residents returning to be checked, having been at the arena earlier in the day.  Orangeville Fire Department also assisted in the assessments.”

Grand Valley mayor Steve Soloman was on the scene. Arena patrons on Sunday were encouraged to seek treatment if they were experiencing symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or shortness of breath.

Dufferin Emergency Response reported, “A specialist will be conducting inspections of all fuel burning appliances in the facility to determine the source of the suspected carbon monoxide leak.”

In an update, Mr. Reid said the Grand Valley and District Community Centre would “remain closed until Tuesday (March 21st) at the earliest, as testing of equipment and any necessary repairs must be conducted. We are all so thankful to Paramedic Jason Dzikowski for his quick recognition and decisive action as this was a very serious situation.”

The facility did re-open Tuesday after an investigation determined the source of the  leak to be a faulty part on the arena’s ice resurfacing machine which was in use that day.

A factory-authorized technician attended the community centre on Tuesday morning and made the necessary repairs to the ice resurfacing machine, and the Town said in a news release that a subsequent emissions test of the propane-fueled machine showed that the carbon monoxide leak had been corrected.

Mayor Soloman said the Town “regrets the unfortunate circumstances that occurred and we are thankful that those who became ill have recovered. He added that the Community Centre’s joint health and safety committee has already implemented some immediate changes to their procedures to ensure that a carbon monoxide detector is readily available when the ice resurfacing machine is in use.

The mayor says the town is committed to installing carbon monoxide detectors in all town facilities in the near the future to ensure a similar incident doe not occur again.

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