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PLEASANT GROVE — Nearly 50 people, mostly children, got sick Tuesday after being exposed to what police said was an "inordinate amount of chlorine."
In what Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Britt Smith called "a freak accident," a main pump at Pleasant Grove Veterans Memorial Pool, 582 East 300 South, pumped large amounts of chlorine into a single jet on one end of the pool.
The pump malfunctioned and shut down, Smith said. When it was turned back on, it pumped too much chlorine into the water and exposed several people to chlorine gas, he said.
Symptoms 'like a severe asthma attack'
Exposed individuals initially presented symptoms of bloody noses, coughing and vomiting, Smith said. He added that police don't believe any patients are in life-threatening condition, and he doesn't believe any fatalities will come of the incident.
American Fork Hospital emergency room doctor Nathan Miller told KSL TV the chlorine gas inhaled by patients he's treated Tuesday has done a number on their bodies and some patients could have chronic respiratory issues.
"The more serious patients have some wheezing and then even more serious that their oxygen numbers drop and they require oxygen, then require breathing treatments," Miller said. "Essentially, it would be like a severe asthma attack where they could potentially suffocate."
The breathing treatments are being administered to mostly children, Miller added.
Parents react: 'We just grabbed the kids and ran'
Martha Vickers said her 2-year-old nephew is one of those being treated. She told KSL TV the fumes hit her family all at once.
"We just grabbed the kids and ran," Vickers said.
A number of them were coughing and gagging as they ran away from the water, she added.
"I just turned around and saw some bubbling from the pool — some yellow bubbling — and I knew it wasn't good," Vickers said.
Marie Stott said her two daughters were both exposed to the gas.
"(Our daughter) was taken to Utah Valley (Hospital)," Marie Stott told KSL TV. "She was one of four in her ambulance. And they showered her and made sure she was all clean and monitored her."
She said the swift response by medics helped calm her fears.
"Our daughters were checked several times by a couple of different EMTs just to make sure they were okay," Stott said.
Victims sent to nearby hospitals
Eight ambulances transported about 26 individuals to hospitals; 22 to 24 others transported themselves, Smith said.
Doctors at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem are treating 15 children and one adult, according to a hospital statement.
"Three have been admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), eight are under observation, and five have been discharged," the statement said.
Individuals exposed to chlorine are still showing up to the hospital with symptoms.
While the chlorine likely won't affect anyone near the area, Smith still advised the public to steer clear for everyone's safety.