One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill title=
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill
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(Photos: Santa Barbara City Fire Department)
Update by Santa Barbara City Fire Department
5:10 p.m., April 30, 2018

At approximately 8:41 a.m. Monday morning, Santa Barbara City Fire Department dispatched one engine to a medical emergency at La Cumbre Junior High School, a part of Santa Barbara Unified School District, for a reported burn victim from citric acid. Shortly after arrival, crews found one patient located in a second floor science supply room who was exposed to sulfuric acid. The room was not occupied by students at the time of the emergency. The patient, who is a teacher at La Cumbre Junior High School, was treated on scene by firefighters and transported by AMR to Cottage Hospital where she was later flown by CalStar to a burn center.

The release of an unknown quantity of the hazardous material, along with other unknown chemicals in the near vicinity prompted the quick and timely evacuation of both the main building and cafeteria to isolate exposure to any other staff and students. Incident command worked closely with La Cumbre Junior High administration and Santa Barbara Unified School District officials on the response. Once safe locations were identified, school staff made the determination to keep students on campus and resume normal school sessions.

Santa Barbara South Coast HazMat Response Team was activated which prompted the response of additional resources from Santa Barbara City Fire, Carpinteria-Summerland Fire and Montecito Fire Protection Districts. Each of these departments have specific pre-assigned roles within the team. Santa Barbara City Fire provided a total of 3 fire engines, a HazMat Unit, and a chief officer who was in command of the incident. Carpinteria-Summerland Fire provided an additional vehicle and decontamination trailer. Montecito Fire provided additional HazMat Specialist to support operations.

A total of two entries were made by HazMat personnel where it was confirmed that approximately one quart of sulfuric acid had been spilled. Sulfuric acid is commonly found in chemical labs and industrial facilities and is the primary ingredient in batteries. It is one of the world’s strongest acids which possess a significant hazard when it makes contact with skin. It is a colorless odorless syrupy liquid that is soluble in water. It is not gaseous and will not spread through the air or HVAC systems. This combination allowed crews to quickly contain the exposure.

Once the scene was neutralized and the emergent phase of the incident was mitigated, operations were transferred over to Channel Coast Corporation, a local HazMat cleanup crew based out of Santa Barbara. Channel Coast Corporation will work closely with school personnel to fully clean and decontaminate the area affected.

Update by Santa Barbara City Fire Department
2:15 p.m., April 30, 2018
Entry teams made access and neutralized the spill. The emergent phase of the incident has been mitigated. The hazardous material is confirmed to be approximately 1 quart of sulfuric acid. The spill is isolated to one classroom, however, due to an abundance of caution both La Cumbre staff and Incident Command have elected to maintain evacuation of the main building. 

Parents may choose to pick up their students, however, it is not necessary as the students are safe and school remains in session. Normal pickup times remain in effect. “Crews continue to make safe, slow and methodical progress towards stabilizing the situation”, said Incident Commander Chief Chris Mailes. “We absolutely don’t want to place the lives of any responders, the staff, or students at jeopardy”.

Members of the South Coast HazMat team making entry to stabilize the scene.

Update by Santa Barbara City Fire Department
11:20 a.m., April 30, 2018

Units from Santa Barbara City, Montecito and Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Departments are on scene of a Hazardous Materials emergency at La Cumbre Junior High School/Santa Barbara Community Academy. One teacher has been injured and has been transported to Cottage Hospital for treatment. No other exposures or injuries to staff or students have been reported. Students have been evacuated from the main building and are being sheltered in place in the auditorium and other safe buildings outside the exposure area. Students will remain on campus at this time. Incident command is working closely with SB Unified School District as the situation evolves.

By an edhat reader
11:12 a.m., April 30, 2018

Does anyone know why a Hazmat team is at La Cumbre Jr High? It looks like a lot of the kids are evacuated to the grass area, what happened?


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Factotum May 01, 2018 11:09 PM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

You can buy a quart of sulfuric acid drain cleaner called "Buster" at Home Depot for under $9.00. Or Lowe's. This is a relatively common household chemical, with all due cautions on the label.

sacjon May 02, 2018 11:42 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Factotum - she was "flown by CalStar to a burn center" (see article above) and, according to a student (who was at the scene) via her parent's comment, "[i]t splashed then caused her to slip. " So, the facts we have are that a teacher was at least splashed with and then slipped in sulfiric acid and then was flown to a burn center (after being assessed at Cottage Hospital). If those facts don't suggest that she was covered to some extent with burns, then I'm not sure what does. Why are you so insistent and hellbent on downplaying this situation?

Factotum May 02, 2018 08:51 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Please direct us to the story confirming this is now a "woman covered with burns". This story become more confused with each update, as well as obfuscated with technical jargon over a product that is found on the aisles of any hardware supply store. We are told there was an "explosion" not it was a spill. A glass container "spontaneously" broke when in fact this product uses synthetic materials for proper handling and perhaps sat in a secondary glass container. Facts not yet in evidence - always a good precaution. But gathering facts that are in evidence about the product, its handling and required precautions is also a critical part of good journalism.

sb93105 May 01, 2018 04:06 PM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

My daughter was in the science classroom adjacent to the lab storage room. The container that had the acid in it was on the floor in another container and the thick glass spontaneously broke. It splashed then caused her to slip. It was a very sad a traumatic day for all and we are hoping for a fast recovery for the teacher- there is a Go Fund me page set up please donate if you can.

Factotum May 02, 2018 10:19 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

There is nothing similar between these two incidents at all, other than the "chemistry lab" setting - working with ether is a highly volatile, inflammable substance. Sulphuric acid is not, but it is highly corrosive to some surfaces, including human skin contact. Sulphuric acid does not catch on fire, nor is it known to explode spontaneously unless handled improperly - (adding water to it other than adding it to water). We still do not have sufficient facts about this spill incident. Safety precautions around any such hazardous substances are always routine.

CivilEngineer May 02, 2018 09:51 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

My sister was involved in something similar, extracting organic compounds with ether heated in a water bath. Everything got knocked over, ether caught on fire, she slipped and fell and got 3rd degree burns on her leg and wrist. Relatively small areas but caused her a lot of pain and discomfort and scarring. Everything in labs is routine until it isn't.

Factotum May 01, 2018 03:06 PM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Google neutralizing sulfuric acid: use baking soda and plenty of flushing water. Both very common items and both should have been readily available to anyone handling this stuff.

Factotum May 02, 2018 11:14 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Science teachers handling hazardous materials should know the proper protocol about decontamination. Surface spills can be neutralized by baking soda; skin exposure by copious flushing. All of this is online from published university lab protocols to wiki type entries. Read and learn and watch out when passing these chemicals in your local hardware store.

Potif May 01, 2018 02:34 PM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Without all the FACTS of what happened, it seems to me as though a lot of comments are making assumptions about how things were handled. And, as to what the teacher was doing and/or wearing at the time. Even if there is a shower there, was she able to get to it, and the speed that acids can work at, even a shower might have only reduced the spread of an already horrific burn. I am pretty sure, for one thing, that the local hospital didn't have her air lifted to a burn center just for the fun of it. I'm glad they handled it the way they did too. They weren't sure of what they were walking into either. It could have been a larger volume, and/or a combination of chemicals.

Factotum May 01, 2018 02:56 PM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Government regulations already control how to handle and notify hazardous chemicals are in use. If this was "unknown" to both the teacher and the first responders, then it is time to reconsider how much faith we are asked to put in government "regulations" everything in our lives. OSHA strictly controls protecting the teacher, Prop 65 and other regulations protect the first responders. NO one was not under layers of government protection regulations in this setting. Were they followed -- apparently not. That is the news story.

a-1590795938 May 01, 2018 01:04 PM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

An "unnecessary response?" How do you figure? An UNKNOWN amount of highly corrosive and dangerous chemical (that caused major burns to the teacher who came in contact with it) spilled in a school. The amount was only known once the response teams went in and assessed the situation. Do you suggest we just don't bother with safeguarding the children by sending in hazmat teams? What exactly is so "unnecessary" about this?

jak May 01, 2018 09:33 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Its hard to imagine a quart of even the most concentrated sulphuric acid resulting in an injury requiring air evacuation to a burn center unless every normal safety precaution was bypassed. (It is also hard to imagine the most concentrated forms of H2SO4 being stored in a school lab which makes the accident more baffling) You just don't handle this stuff (even in a sealed bottle) without appropriate gloves, apron coat, and face shield in addition to good ventilation. Despite the sort-of correct statement that this acid does not spread through the air, in reality it does give off corrosive fumes when exposed to a wide variety of other common chemicals (like moisture in the air). Hope that this teacher recovers fully and goes on to teach many important lessons.

mm1970 May 01, 2018 09:58 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

If you drop it and it breaks...yeah it's gonna cause injury! I remember pouring the stuff in HS chem lab and a drop got "loose" to the floor...landed on my lab mate's foot, ate her pantyhose just like that! Even with gloves and goggles and an apron, you could get burned if you dropped a bottle and it hit your legs below the apron. Boy I'm glad my acid days are gone. It's probably been 6 years since I last had to handle the stuff.

Factotum May 01, 2018 09:31 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

What level of "chemistry" is taught at junior high today? Sorry, I am out of date. We did not have formal chemistry classes until high school in my day. What exactly was sulfuric acid being used to demonstrate in this class.

Factotum May 01, 2018 10:42 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

This should then have been presented as a training exercise, and not a full response toxic hazard news story. Have the city and county consolidated their hazmat forces yet into a single, but seldom used response team? This is an important question since we are in the final stages of municipal budgeting, when the overall cost effectiveness of various government agencies needs particular scrutiny and redundant services can be considered for elimination.

Ahchooo May 01, 2018 10:37 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Aren't the firefighters and other emergency personnel simply waiting around to be needed? It's not a bad idea to respond in full force; they can always split off and go elsewhere if needed. And it acts as a training activity, keeping them on their toes, reminding them of specific procedures. It's not like they let houses burn down because they showed up to this incident.

jak May 01, 2018 09:43 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

I had the same thought initially, but then I started to imagine a bottle on a top shelf falling and breaking against something at face level due to an unprotected person rummaging around for something safer than acid stored above their head but next to the acid. A quart of this stuff even at the common 78% concentration just isn't likely to send someone to the burn center in a helo unless facial or extensive upper body burns occurred. I pray that this isn't some kind of disfiguring tragedy.

Factotum May 01, 2018 09:40 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

I suppose you keep your bottles of clorox under lock and key in your own home? Heaven help the pool service people who might store hydrochloric acid anywhere near your property. "Hazardous" materials are always tracked and notified with proper signage so any sort of rescue response is notified up front. At least that is what our numerous regulations have required - could "government have failed you so badly. You cannot even walk into restaurant without having Prop 65 warning signs screaming at you. Why did this school and teacher violate all these "hazardous" material pre-protections. Why are you sending your own children to schools where they are so sloppy about protective protocol?

a-1590795938 May 01, 2018 09:32 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

RICHYRICH - pretty clear you don't have kids. There was a "release of an unknown quantity of the hazardous material, along with other unknown chemicals" at a school. They didn't know it was only a quart until they sent in their teams, which is what our tax dollars pay them to do. They don't slack off when it comes to kids being in harms way these days, and I'm pretty glad about that. Sad you don't seem to care.

Factotum May 01, 2018 10:06 AM
One Teacher Injured in La Cumbre Jr High Acid Spill

Which is why chem labs have lead lined sinks - reasonable precautions come with handling these chemicals. We obviously do not have the full story - except for these lurid pictures of what appear to be "first responder" overkill response. So much for the state of "science" in America.

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