published Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Crisis averted in Bradley County, Tenn., gas leak

A car sits next to the gas meter that it knocked over next to the Signature Health Care nursing home in Bradley County, Tenn.
A car sits next to the gas meter that it knocked over next to the Signature Health Care nursing home in Bradley County, Tenn.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A car jumped a curb and ruptured a gas line Friday at a Bradley County, Tenn., nursing home, prompting an evacuation and exposing people to natural gas.

Stan Clark, manager of Bradley County EMS, said in a news release the incident happened about 3:30 p.m. at Signature Health Care.

The car struck the gas meter and ruptured the underground, causing a leak. EMS workers who had just dropped off a patient ran to help and called for backup. They couldn't immediately get the people out of the car because of the spewing gas.

When help arrived, they pulled the 65-year-old male passenger from the car and found he had inhaled a lot of gas. He was taken to SkyRidge Medical Center. The female driver was uninjured, Clark said.

He said the leak endangered the nursing home residents' safety, so multiple ambulances and two school buses were readied in case an evacuation was needed. "The trigger point for evacuation would have been if the gas level reached 10 parts per million. The highest it got was 3 parts per million," Clark said.

The Chattanooga Gas Co. shut off the flow of gas at a streetside cut-off valve just after 5 p.m., he said.

"They did a great job. If not for their quick response and getting the gas shut off we would have been in a full blown evacuation," Clark said.

Once the building was ventilated, the emergency was over, he said.

"This was one of the closest times we have ever come to having to fully evacuate a facility of this type. All of the pre-planning, annual drills, and continued training paid off today," Clark said.

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