Carbon monoxide poisoning at a Latter-day Saint chapel in Utah led to at least 22 hospitalizations on Sunday. Updated reports state 54 people experienced symptoms and 49 were treated.
In an official statement released by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, responders first came to the Monroe East Chapel after a four-year-old girl who had trouble breathing. It was believed to be caused by a prior illness. An hour later, emergency services were again called to chapel to treat an adult male who felt sick and thought it was due to low blood sugar.
However, when another family who attended church at the chapel reported they all headaches by the time they arrived home, the fire department was called to check to the building for carbon monoxide. High levels were discovered and the building was evacuated.
Members who had gone to the building continued to get ill and sought medical care. “In all, 22 individuals were needing to be transported to hospitals out of the area for carbon monoxide poisoning treatment,” the original statement said. “This required 10 ambulance transports to get everyone to a hospital that had a hyperbaric chamber that could treat the patients.”
New statements to the media by the church state 49 were ultimately treated at on some level.
Other agencies in the area helped local ambulances with these transports. In addition, several non-emergency patients who felt ill drove to the hospital themselves.
“Thanks to all the agencies, especially those EMT’s who sacrificed their holiday to make this happen,” the statement continued. “It took a lot of coordination between the EMS agencies, the hospitals, and even the local Bureau of EMS liaison to make it all happen. The last ambulance was back from the final transfer at 10:00 AM [Monday morning]. Some of the ambulance crews made more than one trip.”
Church officials told media on Monday that the poisoning was caused by a malfunction with the building’s heating system and that the building would remain closed until its safety could be assured.
“We are concerned for the well-being of everyone impacted and are praying for their recovery,” the statement said.