City to Restructure Poison Response Program
Local News - Newsmakers
Written by Millbank Daily-Weekly   
Thursday, 13 September 2012 15:32


At Thursday night's meeting, the Millbank City Council approved a request from the Millbank Fire Department to restructure the city's Poison Response Program. The program is tasked with preventing poisoning through fast response and providing information. However, the Fire Department said that the program was unsustainable in its current form.

In the past, the Poison Response Program's main resource was its toll-free phone number. Residents were able to call with questions about the toxicity of household products, or to report potential poisoning incidents. Trained experts could answer questions, walk residents through treatments and coordinate appropriate emergency responses. However, the toll-free line has been overwhelmed with calls, resulting in overtaxed responders and busy signals for some needing emergency support.

The restructuring of the Poison Response Program will result in the addition of a second telephone number. The second line will be dedicated for calls from people reporting that something they've put in their mouths "tastes bad."

"We will also accept calls from people reporting food that tastes funny," said a Fire Department spokesman. The spokesman said these calls currently comprise approximately 60% of the poison response calls. However, he said the numbers have decreased since a Peruvian restaurant closed last year.

"Our poison experts calculate they are spending an inordinate amount of time telling people that plantains are not meant to be sweet, that feta cheese is not from cows, and explaining why we cannot come over and smell their milk. But that doesn't make them poison. We tip our hats to Millbank residents for trying different foods, but want them to know that South American and Asian dishes may not taste like what they are used to. Some of our older residents got in the habit of calling any time they ate something bad because they felt it was worth sharing how bad the food was."

The new Yucky Response line will have a recorded message. It will advise people to spit out whatever is in their mouths that tastes bad. If they have packaging, the caller should verify that it is labeled as food. If they do not have packaging, such as in the case of homemade cabbage rolls or pickled eggs at the Out of Bounds Saloon, they are encouraged to use their discretion in deciding whether to treat it as poison or just something they won't eat again. The recorded message also reminds people to call the product seller if they feel they bought something spoiled or rotten.

The Fire Department believes residents will be able to discern which number to call regarding the things they put in their mouths. Their spokesman said that if this restructuring goes well, they may add a third line just for non-emergency poison questions about Pop Rocks and soda, poinsettias, leftover onions, razor blades in Halloween candy and whether hippies have laced your postage stamps with LSD.


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Last Updated on Thursday, 13 September 2012 15:41

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