Mother and child flown to Hopkins as a precaution, then released
A Thursday afternoon incident involving the accidental release of a chemical into the indoor swimming pool at the Francis Scott Key Hotel that sent a mother and young child to John Hopkins has been completely cleared up after a full inspection.
Ocean City Fire Department spokesman Ryan Whittington said Friday that firefighters were called around 4:30 p.m. Thursday to the West Ocean City property to reports of two people with respiratory problems. . Upon arrival, they found a 6-year-old girl and her 41-year-old mother struggling to breathe after swimming in the pool.
“When they arrived they found that the mother and daughter were in the pool and there was…. a type of pool chemical that was released inside the pool,” Whittington said.
The existence of the chemical turned the incident into a hazardous materials situation, Whittington said, and the girl and her mother were airlifted to the pediatric unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital for examination and treatment. as a precaution.
“Any time you have a chemical release, we have multiple concerns as advanced care providers not knowing the damage it can do to the lungs, especially in a young child,” Whittington explained. “The potential for chemical burns to the lungs and throat were all concerns we had.”
He said members of the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office, who took over the investigation, and paramedics trained as HAZMAT technicians were among the respondents.
“We were able to immediately lock down the area and make sure no one else was in the building and also make sure no one else entered the pool,” he said.
Francis Scott Key general manager Heather Bunning said on Friday that a technician was working to maintain the pool at the time of the incident. She explained that gas had accumulated in the valves and that when one was opened, it caused gas to be released into the pool.
“He went through the return and the little girl got near the return and inhaled some of the gas,” Bunning said.
Staff members immediately sprang into action and opened the roof, which is retractable, to quickly expel the gas and evacuate everyone from the area. Bunning said there were only two families bathing there at the time. Whittington said the little girl and her mother were the only ones airlifted to hospital and two others who were nearby refused treatment.
Bunning said she had been in contact with the little girl and her mother and on Friday both were released from hospital and are doing well.
She said the pool was also closed after the incident so staff members could carry out a full equipment assessment to ensure everything was safe.
“We’ve decided to close until it can be reviewed, equipment-wise,” Bunning said Friday. “It seemed to check last night and the health department came first this morning to do another one more time.”
The positive report allowed staff to reopen the pool on time at noon on Friday, which Bunning assured was a completely safe decision.
“All [was] checked equipment, air quality. There was no reason to keep it closed,” she said.
Bunning added that staff take the situation very seriously and stressed that they all have children of their own and always treat hotel facilities as if their children are using them, putting safety and security first at all times. any time.