First responders decontaminated after contact with toxic chemical in Maryville train fire


MARYVILLE (WATE) – Ten first responders were brought to Blount Memorial Hospital after the early morning train derailment and fire that exposed them to the flammable and poisonous liquid inside those train cars.

Anyone who came into direct contact with that liquid had to be decontaminated at Blount Memorial Hospital.Previous story: Thousands evacuated after train carrying toxic, flammable liquid catches fire in Blount County

“That sounds kind of scary, but it’s really not. What it is, is a series of four showers with hot water and soap, and we do a real thorough cleansing. All your clothing is taken off and is placed in a bag because your clothing could potentially be contaminated as well,” said Dr. Hal Naramore, Chief Medical Officer

Doctors say they were not familiar with this chemical until Thursday morning but are taking steps to ensure everyone is treated properly.

“I have some familiarity with it, and we’re in touch with of course the area emergency management and other resources to give us advice and counseling on how to proceed and we’ve taken all those steps,” said Dr. Naramore.

Doctors at Blount Memorial train each year just in case an event like this happens, and they say by Thursday afternoon everything was running smoothly.

“It’s something that most hospitals in 2015 do train for and we train for a number of different scenarios. They could be toxic chemical scenarios. They could be weather or any number of things,” said Dr. Naramore.

They say if you live outside the evacuation area, it is highly unlikely you would get sick from the chemical.

Symptoms to watch out for are mainly respiratory, including things like coughing and wheezing.

Pharmacies in the area are able to give people who have been evacuated from their homes a small dosage of their prescriptions to get them through until they can return home. Just contact your pharmacy if you need to get your medications.

“This medical community is very supportive of this community and everyone that we’ve needed has jumped in and done all the things that we need them to do,” said Dr. Naramore.

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