Lubbock, TX (KCBD) - It was a bad ending to spring break. The pool area remains sealed off at the Embassy Suites off Slide and the South Loop Saturday. This comes after dozens of people, mostly children, were sent to the hospital with breathing problems and skin irritations after being in or near the pool. The Embassy Suite's curb was crowded with worried parents and scared children wrapped in towels after watching many others go to the hospital. A witness and guest at the hotel, Tony Arsbon reports the scene was full of "panic, crying, scared kids."
Kids lined the pavement hooked up to extra oxygen after a day at the pool. "All of the kids and parents were in the swimming pool were exiting into the hallway coughing and I recognized the smell" Tony says of chlorine. A malfunction of the hotel's automatic chlorinating system is the possible cause for twenty seven people, mainly children being treated in Lubbock hospitals.
"Most of it was just respiratory breathing symptoms um a few had shortness of breath and a little difficulty breathing" says Chris Teague, director of Lubbock EMS whose team was first on the scene. An investigator from the Fire Marshal's office tells us that chlorine forms a hydrochloric acid when it comes in contact with moisture and that is when it will irritate lungs. "They got some inhalation that started making them sick, it was in a closed area so that's what started getting them sick" Teague explains the fact that the pool was in a closed off area made the chlorine levels higher and more dangerous. The door to the indoor pool was left open so swimmers were not the only ones affected.
"Several of the parents that were in the hallway later on started developing coughs and stuff so even the ones that may not have been in the pool started coughing," Arsbon remembers.
We talked to The Embassy Suites who gave us this statement Saturday at 9:10 pm: "The safety of our guests and associates is our top priority. We have been in contact with local hospitals and the guests that were taken there. We have currently been informed that a total of 26 guests are waiting to be released this evening. Additionally, two guests are being held overnight for observation. A parent of one of these children has contacted us to let us know that he is doing much better and recovering. We are working diligently to provide other services to our guests such as shuttles to and from local hospitals. Their safety and security is our first concern."
If this seems familiar, this is the third time in about five years that people have become sick after swimming in the pool at the Embassy. 18 people were at UMC Saturday night, 15 children and 3 adults. Covenant Hospital saw 7 children and 2 adults. A total of 27 people sought treatment after their pool day.
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