"The garage is where we had the
highest concentration [of phosphine]," said Smith.
"My team is highly trained and has
more specialized equipment then an average hazmat team,"
said Smith. "Hazmat is not an additional duty for us like it
is for firefighters, who have to be proficient in many other
areas. We specialize in chemical, biological, radiological,
nuclear and explosive agents and situations. We are
organized in a way that we support civil authorities."
During a situation such as this,
where there is a deadly gas that could pose a possible
threat to team members, the CST has on location a
physician’s assistant (PA), Maj. Larry Carpenter, who
monitors team members as they work downrange and keeps track
of incident victims at local hospitals.
Photo by Ileen Kennedy
Major Larry Carpenter,
left, monitors the vital signs of SFC Shaine
Richards after Richards
a hazardous-chemical environment.
"On any of these kinds of
scenes, whether it’s a training scenario or real world
like this, 25 percent of the time my job is to make sure
our guys are healthy and medically fit to go down
range," said Carpenter. "If anyone gets hurt, I take
care of them. The other 75 percent of the time I spend
coordinating between local EMS and communicate with the
local hospitals to find out if there are people who have
"Based on their signs and
symptoms, where they were at the time of exposure, and any
lab data, I come up with a differential and say, ‘OK, if
they were exposed to something seven days ago and now they
are having symptoms, it’s a biological agent and they’ve
been exposed to a bacteria or a toxin,’" explained
Carpenter. "If it is immediate onset, then I know that it’s
chemical. So I coordinate the signs and symptoms with
whatever is going on in their bloodstream, and I try to come
up with a differential as to what [the agent] probably is."
Carpenter also works closely with
85th CST science officer Maj. Jared Gailey to
identify the type of agent they are dealing with.
"I work with Maj. Gailey very
closely," said Carpenter. "I take all my signs, symptoms,
lab data and my differential and attach it to whatever his
science brain says it has to be. We then correlate so we
have angles from two different locations indicating it is
exactly this type of agent."
Photo by Ileen Kennedy
Layton firefighters and
85th CST members discuss
mitigation procedures in
the command trailer Feb. 8.
On Sunday, when the CST team
members used the photo ionization detector to test the home,
they were able to identify various levels of phosphine gas
inside both the garage and residence.
"In this case, as soon as we had a
positive ID for phosphine, I contacted the hospital to let
them know," said Carpenter. "They need to know so they can
monitor and change their treatment for anyone they have in
Once the residence was given a
final clear Feb. 9, the 85th turned over the
investigation of the fatal gas leak to the Davis County
"We’re confident that the risk
from the chemical has been cleared," said Bob Ballew,
spokesman for Davis County Health Department.