JOHNSTON, Iowa – Seventy-six students at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy at Camp Dodge are being treated at Des Moines metro hospitals after a carbon monoxide leak was reported at a dormitory Thursday morning.
Judy Bradshaw, Director of the ILEA, says an overnight security guard noticed a strong odor of gas at the dormitory just before 6:00 a.m. She called 911 and immediately contacted the sleeping students and began evacuating the building.
There were 81 students in the dormitory at the time of the incident.
When the first crew from the Johnston-Grimes Metro Fire Department arrived shortly after 6:00 a.m., they found high levels of carbon monoxide in the building, with the strongest reading in the basement.
A majority of the students, who had been evacuated to an Iowa National Guard building, began exhibiting symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning shortly after firefighters arrived. Some suffered from headaches, nausea, and light headedness. Firefighters tested the students and found several had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the blood.
Several ambulances were called to the scene and Polk County Emergency Management was notified about the mass casualty incident.
Ambulances transported 9 patients with the most severe symptoms to local hospitals. DART and the Iowa National Guard provided buses and vans to transport the rest of the students that needed to be evaluated.
Chief Jim Clark with the Johnston-Grimes Metro Fire Department provided a breakdown of where the patients were sent.
- Mercy Main –37 patients
- Methodist Main – 13 patients
- Broadlawns – 8 patients
- Methodist West – 3 patients
- Mercy West – 6
- Lutheran -- 9
The patients sent to Lutheran Hospital initially hadn't experienced symptoms but did have elevated carbon monoxide levels in their blood.
As of a 10:00 a.m. news conference held by officials, a total of 76 students had been transported to a local hospital to be evaluated and treated.
Officials say among all the patients, no serious injuries were reported.
Chief Clark says the response to the incident “couldn’t have gone better” and the cooperation between the agencies involved made things run smoothly.
The source of the carbon monoxide leak is still being investigated. Director Bradshaw said there was not a carbon monoxide alarm system in the dormitory.