Three men die in hot spring gas poisoning in Akita


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What a crazy accident. RIP.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So four people went and three died. Did the one who is alive and well have some reservations about going into the hole? If this was routine maintenance, were they all versed in what they were to do, the dangers associated with it and the precautions they should take?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

the three were in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest.

My pet peeve for the day. This is the second story I have read where "shinpai teishi no jyotai" (心肺停止の状態) is translated as "in a state of cardiopulmonary (or cardio-respiratory, cardiac) arrest."

I realize it is a direct translation of the Japanese, but it is confusing to a lot of readers. Many in the English-speaking world equate cardiopulmonary arrest with 'having a heart attack' and envision a person still with vital signs clutching their heart.

It would be more natural in this case to say that they were found "without vital signs" — no heartbeat, no pulse, no breathing, dead but not officially confirmed as such.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

I guess people carrying out maintenance should wear proper protection gear from now on. These kinds of deaths are kind of meaningless, they could have been averted.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Sensato: I can't agree with you more. It drives me crazy when they translate it as cardiac arrest. Especially when they find the corpse(s) days after death. It seems that the EMTs are unable to officially verify that they are without vital signs (no clue why) and it has to be confirmed at a hospital. What a joke.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

This gas smells a bit like rotten eggs, but at pretty low concentrations it numbs the sense of smell after a short while so it's possible they thought it had dissipated. If it was a hole full of essentially pure gas a single breath would likely knock them out immediately with little chance for the remaining person to save them even with a respirator.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Two collapsed, third went to help, collapsed too. Fourth decided do the right thing and contact emergency services. Very tragic, was reading up about hydrogen sulphide and how it concentrates in low lying areas (valleys etc)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Sensato: Well, you can't fault them for using "cardiopulmonary arrest" correctly. If a reader is confused due to their incorrect interpretation of the term, then it is the duty of the reader to correct their misinterpretation, not the duty of the writer to modify their correct use.

I concede that this is a very common misinterpretation, one that I myself had in my childhood (most likely due to movies and TV), but it is a mistake nonetheless.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Poor guys! They knew dangerous gas is always there around hot spring. Just careless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it is the duty of the reader to correct their misinterpretation, not the duty of the writer to modify their correct use.


The thing is, this is not so much a matter of "correct use" as it is of following convention to effectively communicate the story — a hallmark of professional reporting and translation. Plus, even though "cardiac arrest" and "heart attack" are technically different, the two terms are very often used synonymously/interchangeably in English.

If you do a Google search of "in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest" (in quotes) there are a limited number of hits, almost all of which are in reference to Japan (particularly the Mt. Ontake eruption). Also, many of the major media outlets when using the term for a story on Japan put the phrase in scare quotes to signal the non-standard usage, followed by an explanation of what is meant by the term.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Very sad. A similar incident happened at Doroyu Hot Springs in southern Akita some years back - killed a family of 4.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It drives me crazy when they translate it as cardiac arrest.

The headless corpse was delivered to the hospital in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, where doctors confirmed death.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Safety precautions? Where were they?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the 4th guy was standing above the hole waving his torch so passers by can't fall in maybe, but normally its 1 guy digging the hole and 4 guys waving torches.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So four people went and three died. Did the one who is alive and well have some reservations about going into the hole?

Standard safety practices when descending into confined spaces is to have at least one person "topside" who (theroetically) is manning a winch that can raise the person in the hole should they become incapacitated. For something like a hot spring hole maybe a winch wasn't feasible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These were veteran workers. Unfortunately they left their gas sensor behind for some reason. And deep snow this year apparently contributed to the gas not dissipating in the air as usual.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is hard to believe that a gas detection sensor is not attached to their work gear.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cardiopulmonary arrest was the perfect term to use in this case. If the men were encountered as pulseless and not breathing, then their state is best described as such. A heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest, if it produces an infarction profound enough to inhibit cardiac output or electrical conductivity to sustain vital function. Hydrogen sulfide can immediately reduce lung and heart function upon exposure, leading to a sudden passing out in many cases. Unfortunately for these men, exposure to hyrdrogen sulfide air concentrations above 100 ppm can reduce the ability of the nose to detect the smell of the gas (nasty eggs), leading a person to believe they are no longer at risk; when exposure to a concentration of 500-1000 ppm occurs, death nearly always occurs -and swiftly at that. Pronouncing a person dead at a scene is generally reserved for grossly obvious cases such as incineration or horrendous trauma. Even still, each death has to be confirmed by a trained physician, such as in a hospital, before a death certificate can be signed and issued.

Peace be with these men and their families.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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