Ohio Woman Claims Ambulance Sprayed Her With Toxic Chemical

A woman who claims she suffered burns from an unknown chemical sprayed by a Columbus (OH) Fire Division ambulance has filed suit against the city.

Maureen Koeppen claims she was riding in a convertible on August 6, 2013 when a Columbus FD ambulance pulled up next to her and began spraying a toxic chemical that caused burns and lesions. She claims the chemical led to her admission to a hospital on August 14 where she allegedly remains with a life threatening condition.

According to the complaint:

  • "Next to her vehicle in the left turning lane, and also stopped at the red light, was a red Columbus ambulatory medic response and transport vehicle. The Columbus vehicle's flashers were off, and it was not on a run.”
  • "Plaintiff Maureen Koeppen's vehicle is a convertible, and the top was down on this warm August evening. While sitting at the red light, an extremely large amount of warm fluid began discharging from the Columbus ambulance vehicle onto Mrs. Koeppen. It was like a garden hose began spraying all over Mrs. Koeppen.”  
  • "The fluid began spraying onto the back of Mrs. Koeppen's neck, and when she turned toward the truck in response the fluid began spraying all over her face and into her mouth. Mrs. Koeppen tried to avoid the fluid while trying to get the attention of the Columbus personnel, but the fluid continued discharging onto Mrs. Koeppen and into her vehicle… [leaving her] "thoroughly soaked – fluid had gone onto her face, chest, arms and back of her neck, and into her eyes, nose and mouth. She was drenched – fluid covered her, and the front, sides and inside of her vehicle.”
  • "The fluid tasted like a chemical. And almost immediately after the incident, Mrs. Koeppen began noticing lesions and burn marks on her face, the back of her neck, cheeks, mouth and chin."
  • [After the incident Koeppen] "began suffering serious and significant health issues, resulting in her hospitalization eight days later, on August 14, 2013."
  • "Upon admission, Mrs. Koeppen was initially diagnosed as suffering from exposure to a toxic chemical. Mrs. Koeppen has been hospitalized every day since August 14, 2013. Her prognosis is life-threatening."

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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