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Accident: Alaska Airlines B734 at Sitka on Dec 20th 2008, ground power unit causes ca

ImbracableCrunk

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Accident: Alaska Airlines B734 at Sitka on Dec 20th 2008, ground power unit causes carbon monoxide poisoning
By Simon Hradecky, created Sunday, Dec 21st 2008 16:18Z, last updated Sunday, Dec 21st 2008 16:18ZThe crew of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400, flight AS-73 from Sitka,AK to Juneau,AK (USA) with 83 passengers, declared emergency while on approach to Juneau due to medical emergencies on board. 3 crew and one passenger had gone ill during the flight and were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning by emergency doctors responding to the emergency call. The four were subsequently delivered to a hospital.

A ground power unit at Sitka is suspected to have produced fumes causing the illnesses. Alaska Airlines however can not yet confirm the carbon monoxide poisoning stating, that this was a diagnose by first time responders. Alaska Airlines is still investigating what caused the illnesses.


I don't know about the title of the article, but it's a little disturbing.

Sadly, I'm not surprised by this. We don't need an "APU Sheriff," we need a ground HVAC Task Force.
 

Baze

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...and we need more de-icing fluid @ SEA today.

This place is an absolute mess right now.
 

Fubijaakr

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More "unintended consequences" of trying to save fuel by not running the APU.
 

igneousy2

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What kind of ground power unit was it. Power Cart, Huffer Cart, or AC cart?
 

regionaltard

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San Quentin cart.
 

kf4amu

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Wow very doubtful what?

Enough CO made it into the cabin to cause symptoms that long after the fact. CO has a great affinity for blood, and symptoms happen sooner rather than later. Once the GPU is disconnected and the airplane is pushed back, I don't see how the CO level would continue rising in the cabin, unless there was another source.

I'd also be very skeptical of what "first responders" say. They are rarely allowed to diagnose anything. They are there simply to treat the symptoms as they present themselves.

For instance: "He was having a heart attack". No he wasn't. He may have been "having chest pain with associated heart arrhythmia and all the presentations of a heart attack", but a paramedic cannot diagnose it as such, much less a first responder. Only a Doctor can (officially).

Same with CO poisoning. This statement
"Alaska Airlines however can not yet confirm the carbon monoxide poisoning stating, that this was a diagnose by first time responders." throws all sorts of red flags to me as not reliable.

First responders don't diagnose medical conditions (for the most part...your local agency may differ). They treat symptoms. "CO Poisoning" is not a symptom, it's a diagnosis. Altered LOC, shallow breathing, and low O2 sats are possibly symptoms of CO Poisoning, although they are not required, nor limited to these.

They may be right, but my point is first responders should never be relied on for diagnosis, even if they are right 90 percent of the time, they are still wrong too much to be reliable.
 

ImbracableCrunk

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Enough CO made it into the cabin to cause symptoms that long after the fact. CO has a great affinity for blood, and symptoms happen sooner rather than later. Once the GPU is disconnected and the airplane is pushed back, I don't see how the CO level would continue rising in the cabin, unless there was another source.

Good points. You sound like you know much more than your average pilot.

How about CO levels in the blood were not critical on the ground, but at higher cabin alt, the reduced ppO2 unmasked the CO?
 

kf4amu

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Good points. You sound like you know much more than your average pilot.

How about CO levels in the blood were not critical on the ground, but at higher cabin alt, the reduced ppO2 unmasked the CO?

It certainly sounds plausible, but from a treatment standpoint, it's almost irrelevant. Whether someone was at 5000 feet when they presented with symptoms vs someone who was at sea level...the treatment will still be the same. CO "muscles out" O2 by something like a factor of 200:1. So whether you are at sea level, or cabin altitude, its such a minor difference percentage wise compared to the affinity CO has to attach to hemoglobin over the O2 that it is irrelevant from a treatment standpoint, but I see no reason symptoms couldn't present sooner, or more seriously in a situation like that.

A good EMT/Paramedic will put that piece of the puzzle together with all the others and help them develop a plan, and pass that information to the receiving hospital so they can diagnose the problem quicker.

It's amazing how much a Paramedic/EMT can do to help a patient, just by gathering information and passing it along in an organized format to the receiving physician. You can save 5 minutes of Q&A by the Dr so they can start advanced treatment that much sooner. In this situation, a Doctor may make the decision to send the patient to a hyperbaric chamber based on the information provided, whereas in the absence of that information, they wouldn't have. It may be a stretch, but it could be the difference between minor disability and full function.
 
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kingair1

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I have been overwhelmed by the GPU's that we have. They are extremely close to the airplane and obviously not approved by the EPA.
 

Singlecoil

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Blood was taken and tested. At least 4 of 5 crewmembers were positive for monoxide.
 

Old School 737

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News is now saying 2 critical condition. I would think the guy doing the spraying gets it way worse.
 

ImbracableCrunk

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News is now saying 2 critical condition. I would think the guy doing the spraying gets it way worse.


What? I had AA spray deice into our running APU last year whilst sitting at the gate. Smoked up the entire cabin. PAX and FAs almost popped the slides (and I'm not sure they shouldn't have).

Smelled bad and the FAs had a bit of a headache so they went back to the hotel. No one was in critical condition and they got a full dose in the back.

Curious.
 

igneousy2

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What? I had AA spray deice into our running APU last year whilst sitting at the gate. Smoked up the entire cabin. PAX and FAs almost popped the slides (and I'm not sure they shouldn't have).

Smelled bad and the FAs had a bit of a headache so they went back to the hotel. No one was in critical condition and they got a full dose in the back.

Curious.

I don't know that it makes a difference as I don't know the facts of either case, however, I do know that there is a big difference between getting sprayed with type-1 vs. type-4. Type-4 is some nasty stuff. Had a flight attendant get taken off on a stretcher on an EMB-145 after being shot in the face with type-4. The door seals on the EMB were/are really bad and if they hit the right spot under pressure it would go right into the cabin.

Later
 
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