By Aaron Recuenco
Experts from the Department of Health (DoH) will lead the investigation into the death of a police doctor who allegedly died of inhalation of toxic chemicals from the disinfectant solution being sprayed on policemen manning a COVID-19 treatment facility in Pasig City.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said the DOH’s involvement is a move to ensure an impartial result of the probe into the death of Capt. Casey Gutierrez on May 30.
“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.
Based on the initial report, Gutierrez was undergoing the mandatory decontamination protocol at the Philippine Sports Arena-Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility (PSA-TTMF) on May 24 when he experienced difficulty breathing.
He was taken to the PNP General Hospital but was transferred the following day to the Lung Center of the Philippines. He died on May 30.
Police Staff Sergeant Steve Rae Salamanca and Police Corporal 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.
On June 1, two more cops experienced the same at the PSA-TTMF.
In the initial probe, Gamboa said the team of Gutierrez accidentally sprayed concentrated decontamination solution that caused irritation and difficulty in breathing. Other PNP personnel rushed to administer first aid to the victims.
The decontamination solution, according to the initial report, was sodium hypochlorite.
The PNP is manning and supervising two quarantine facilities- the PSA-TTMF and at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
Police said the chemical disinfectant used in another PNP-managed quarantine facility at the PICC is hypoallergenic and biodegradable.
The supplier of the decontamination solution at the PICC is different from that of the PSA-TTMF where Gutierrez inhaled the toxic chemicals.