Fire in Thanksgiving Episode : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

I seem to have missed the cause of the fire in the most recent episode. Did I hear something about ether and crack cocaine in the pharmacy? Or was the patient responsible? I had been wondering why Abby hadn't been firmer about telling him to extinguish his cigarette when the big bang occurred.

-- donna wolf (, November 24, 2000


From the way I understood it, the guy who was admitted for a drug overdose was cooking up meth in the a room below the pharmacy. He was transporting the drugs out in IV bags. Apparantly the ER accidentally received a box of the IV bags that contained the meth. Meth contains ether which was why Abby said that the IV solution smelled funny. I feel Abby shouldv'e been firmer with the patient also. And it's anyones guess as to who should be responsible for the fire. But my feeling is it shouldv'e been the patient since he should know that it is a big NO NO to smoke in the ER.

-- Tina (, November 24, 2000.

I usually appreciate ER's reality. BUT C'mon -- the smoking would never have been tolerated in a hospital room, let alone the ER. They stooped low to make the explosion happen.....And the explosion , please, haven't we had enough of those?

-- Barb (, November 24, 2000.

I agree. I'm surprised anyone still goes to County anymore. I'd be looking for a hospital that didn't feature an exploding ER. (Although the one with Jerry and that rocket launcher-thing was sure worth it. I laughed my butt off.)

-- Rubi (, November 25, 2000.

I think Abby not being firm and making the man put out his cigarette was the writers way of showing us how preoccupied and consumed she is by her mother's presence and how it is effecting her professionally as well as personally.

-- michele (, November 26, 2000.

I could be wrong, but I thought the guy had oxygen in his nose as well. The first thing I thought was that there something was going to explode. I had heard there was going to be an explosion, but completely forgot about it until it happened.

-- Joanne (, November 26, 2000.

We should start voting about "Lamest Excuse Ever to Mess the ER Set" I would vote for this one.

-- jules (, November 30, 2000.

I'd vote for this one as well. Unless they're changing exam room 3, aka the tragedy room, then this was totally pointless.

-- Cammie (, November 30, 2000.

Re: the oxygen. O2 is an accelerant, not an explosive. Smoking while on O2 would not have cause that explosion. It was the ether which cause the "boom." The O2 helped fuel the fire.

Re: they reality of hospitals having so much damage. Bizarre things can - and do - happen. During the late 70s a plane crashed in the parking lot of my mom's hospital, actually inches from the large O2 tank. Fortunately, there was no explosion, it didn't damage the tank, and the pilot was not killed. But, a foot or so, and there could have been serious damage.

We have pictures.

-- Cathy (, November 30, 2000.

In regards to Oxygen not exploding, I still thought it was bizzare that Abby wouldn't make him put his cigarette out. That gush of flame coming from the wall of the exam room is, I thought, pretty typical of what would happen if an O2 tank was ignited (though, admittedly, I've never actually seen such a thing). It might not be an "explosion" per se, but it's still pretty dangerous. The hospitals I've seen have a cutoff valve for every exam room (or pair of them) so that the O2 can be turned off right away if there is a such an emergency.

-- Lynn (, November 30, 2000.

That gush of flame coming from the wall of the exam room is pretty typical of what would happen if a natural gas line rips and ignites. Back when I was young and stupid, I used to be a firefighter; we use burners that ran on natural gas for training, and they looked an awful lot like that when they were lit. (It's pretty low-pressure -- about 1/4 psi -- but still very dramatic.) Real gas fires aren't nearly as neat and clean, though.

I have played around with oxygen and fire (again, I was young and stupid), and as Cathy points out, oxygen supports combustion, but does not itself burn; it's an oxidizer, not a flammable substance. The presence of oxygen will make items not readily susceptible to ingition more likely to burn, and there are certain materials that will spontaneously combust at fairly low temperatures in an oxygen- rich atmosphere. The primary danger in smoking around oxygen therapy equipment is primarily that the gas will permiate clothing or fabric (making it more amenable to combustion) and the flame will ignite the material. People don't blow up from smoking around oxygen, but they do get burned pretty good.

As other people have noted, what blew up was the ether, which is flammable enough that you used to be able to buy cans of it at the auto parts store. You could spray a small amount on the air intake and it would help you start your engine on cold days; since the advent of fuel injection, this is kind of pointless, but more than one person used too much ether and managed to more or less blow up his engine. It's volatile stuff. (And yes, I have first-hand experience with that, too.. how I managed to live beyond the age of 15 is a mystery to me.)

-- Mike Sugimoto (, November 30, 2000.

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