The Philippine National Police has sought the assistance of the Department of Health for an independent investigation into an incident of accidental exposure to hazardous chemicals of a team of police medical and healthcare personnel at a PNP-managed COVID-19 quarantine facility.
On instructions of PNP Chief, Police General Archie Francisco F Gamboa, PLTGEN Camilo Cascolan, PNP Deputy Chief for Administration and Commander of PNP Administrative Support to COVID-19 Task Force (ASCOTF) has made representations with the Office of Secretary Francisco Duque III seek DOH assistance in the ongoing probe into the May 24 incident at the Philippine Sports Arena-Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility (PSA-TTMF).
“The PNP mourns the death of Dr. Casey Gutierrez and I have ordered a full investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding his death. All efforts must be exerted to ensure that no similar incident happens in the future.” Gamboa said.
The Chief PNP emphasized that the welfare and safety of police personnel performing frontline duties is a priority in all PNP operations in this time of health crisis. “It is our duty to keep our police frontliners safe.”
Police Captain Dr. Casey Gutierrez died on May 30 at the Lung Center of the Philipines due to inhalation injuries. PSSG Steve Rae Salamanca and PCpl Runie Toledo, both members of the PNP Medical Reserve Force also experienced similar conditions due to chemical inhalation and were treated at the PNP General Hospital.
Gutierrez, Salamanca and Toledo were detailed at the PSA-TTMF in Pasig City. While performing routine decontamination procedure in the evening of May 24, the team accidentally sprayed concentrated decontamination solution (sodium hypochlorite) that caused irritation and difficulty in breathing. Other PNP personnel rushed to administer first aid to the victims.
According to Cascolan, the independent investigation will be participated by other concerned agencies involved in the administration of the PSA-TTMF.
At the same time, Cascolan reminded police healthcare personnel and frontline medical units to always be mindful of safety procedures in the workplace by raising awareness to biosafety and chemical hazards.
The ASCOTF earlier noted that the chemical disinfectant used in in another PNP-managed quarantine facility at the PICC is hypoallergenic and biodegradable, and that the PSA-TTMF and PICC have different service providers.
ASCOTF is implementing re-entry protocols in all PNP camps and installations as the PNP resumes regular operations under the new normal.
These protocols include disinfection of offices, reconfiguration and observance of minimum health standards in the workplace. PNP-PIO