GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Officials have released recordings of 911 calls received from the Gainesville food processing plant where six people were killed and several others were hurt following a liquid nitrogen leak on Thursday.
The calls, which were first reported to dispatchers as liquid nitrogen burns to an employee, clearly indicated that something more was happening at the Foundation Food Group facility, formerly known as Prime Pak Foods, at 2076 Memorial Park Drive.
First telephone call:
In the first call, a person who identified himself as Zach Hoover, the plant's director, told the dispatcher who answered that he needed an ambulance at the plant.
Hoover said he had received a telephone call from an employee in another part of the plant who said a person could be "frozen from liquid nitrogen."
"I got a phone call from one of my employees saying that I've got a person who potentially could be frozen from liquid nitrogen," Hoover said.
He told the dispatcher that the liquid nitrogen was used in the plant to preserve chicken.
Second telephone call:
The second call was from a commercial fire alarm company calling in a notice of an automated pull station.
"An employee was burned by liquid nitrogen," the dispatcher said. "The fire department should be on scene."
Third telephone call:
Chaotic voices could be heard from the calling end of the line. A voice trailing off could be heard saying there were people inside Foundation Food Group.
"Are you calling about the person burned?" the dispatcher asked.
That call quickly ended.
Fourth telephone call:
Zach Hoover called 911 once again, this time saying he was at the rear of the plant.
"I've got multiple people affected by liquid nitrogen," Hoover said.
"Yes sir, we've got additional units coming to you," the dispatcher said. "Are there first responders with you?"
Hoover didn't answer the dispatcher's question, sounding more like he was trying to deal with the unfolding situation around him.
"What can I do with someone who's been affected?" he asked.
A loud siren could be heard in the background. He told the dispatcher that he was in the rear of the plant and indicated that he could not see firefighters yet.
The dispatcher began to ask him about the others. Could he get the one closest to him on to his back, she wanted to know.
"I've got one on his side," Hoover said.
"Is he breathing?" the dispatcher asked him.
"He's breathing -- but struggling, though," Hoover replied. "He's foaming at the mouth; eyes are open, struggling."
Hoover paused a moment.
"I see some firemen inside," he said. Then his attention came back to the employees close to him.
"He’s breathing very slowly. He’s breathing very slowly."
Hoover was breathing very heavily.
“I’ve got two people not breathing, one barely breathing," he said. "I’ve got four people down and I don’t see anybody here!”
He said he saw firefighters, but not EMTs at first. He described three people not conscious on the ground and at first said that one did not have a pulse.
The operator advised the caller not to touch the liquid nitrogen for their safety.
“I’ve got two that are cold, it feels like they’re gone," he said. "I’ve got one that’s got a body temperature that’s quite cold. It seems like they’re freezing.”
During the call, the plant was being evacuated. Screams could be heard in the background.
“I’m standing with a guy who’s been frozen by liquid nitrogen. He’s barely breathing," he said.
The operator walked him through CPR, and eventually, 10 minutes into the call, Hoover said that a firefighter had taken over the treating the worker.