Everyone is okay after dozens of people were taken to hospitals from a farm in Delta on Saturday (December 9).
In a message video posted on social media, Samantha Wilbur, B.C. Emergency Health Services’ (BCEHS) director of patient care for Vancouver, gave credit to coordination among the numerous agencies that responded to the incident.
“It’s fantastic to see how well these guys work together,” Wilbur said, “To have it go so smoothly at a big event like this is a huge testament to the training that they received as well as the work together that we do in the field.”
According to BCEHS, more than 40 people were taken to various hospitals across the region after some of them were exposed to carbon monoxide at a Windset Farms greenhouse complex in Delta.
Initially, 32 people were described as in stable condition while 10 cases were more serious. BCEHS said 13 ambulances responded to the farm. It later clarified that not everyone exihibited symptoms or was even exposed to the gas, but that everyone received a checkup, as a precaution. (A statement issued by Windset Farms puts the number of people affected at 43.)
Delta fire battalion chief Neil Shuster told Global News that the accident was likely the result of a gas buildup that occurred due to a lack of adequate ventilation.
Windset Farms subsequently issued a statement that says the company is reviewing cleaning practices that might have contributed to the suspected ventilation problem.
"Annually at this time of year, as part of our preparation for the new crop, we wash and disinfect the greenhouse with has powered washers, which is considered a standing practice in our industry," it reads.
"When the first employee reported a feeling of being unwell, our on-site health and safety team took immediate steps to ensure we followed our safety protocols including the immediate evacuation of the greenhouse, calling for emergency support, and the process of triaging those most affected," it continues. "We took steps to ensure anyone who was exposed received medical attention.
"Over the coming days and weeks, we will ensure our workers receive whatever follow up care they require."
WorkSafeBC is also investigating the matter.