Carbon monoxide within Nelson Hall: calling attention to serious issue at DU

Produced by Brenda Rohn, Carly Ann Moore, Samantha Selincourt 

Carbon monoxide may not be the most typically attributed cause of death for a loved one; however, it is important to realize that carbon monoxide is a very prevalent and threatening issue to the safety and well being of individuals. Carbon monoxide is the nation’s leading cause of death due to poisoning.

With regard to the University of Denver, carbon monoxide proved to be a serious issue with the loss of a DU grad student, 23-year-old Lauren Johnson, three years back on Jan. 5, 2009. While Johnson lived in an off-campus apartment near the DU campus, her lost life due to carbon monoxide poisoning hit the University of Denver hard.

After the loss of Lauren Johnson, DU installed carbon monoxide detectors in every room within the various residence halls and apartments on campus.

In efforts to deal with the loss of Johnson and prevent future losses from carbon monoxide poisoning, DU decided to install carbon monoxide detectors in every room within the residence halls.

Carbon monoxide levels cause evacuations of Nelson Hall
Since the installation, the University of Denver has experienced two encounters with carbon monoxide. Last year the resident hall, Nelson Hall, was evacuated due to carbon monoxide levels present and this year, Nelson Hall was evacuated again, twice within the month of October.

The first time the students were evacuated from Nelson Hall this 2012 Fall Quarter, the students were awakened in the middle of the night by the alarms, evacuated, and kept out of the building for about an hour, but the second evacuation proved more serious than the first. Around 3:30 a.m., the residents of Nelson Hall were again awakened by the alarms, evacuated, and relocated to the lobby of the neighboring resident hall, Nagel Hall, where they were retained for six hours.

Nelson Hall has recently experienced issues with carbon monoxide , causing residents to be evacuated twice this 2012 Fall Quarter.

Nelson Hall residents were confused, reporting that not much direction or information was given as to what was going on or when they would be allowed back into the dorms and several were dissatisfied with the way the evacuation was handled.

“We were shoved into Nagel Hall like cattle and no direction was given,” stated Doug Mark, a resident of Nelson Hall. “I saw students sleeping on cement stairs and people sleeping on the floor of the lobby in the residence hall. To me, this raises questions as to whether the University is prepared for serious situations like this.”

DU’s efforts to resolve carbon monoxide issues
According to the University of Denver Facilities Department, none of the carbon monoxide detectors have went off in any of other the resident halls. In regard to the carbon monoxide issues within Nelson Hall, the Facilities Department is currently investigating the cause of the issue. “We are looking at the parking garage, which was built to specification, but if we have to change the design of the parking garage, that’s what we will do,” states Scott Schrage, Assistant Director of the Facilities Department.

“We have our staff walking around the building with gas sniffers, which are more sensitive than the carbon monoxide detectors in the rooms. They go out during the day every four hours and, at night, when the activity levels spike in the garage, we check levels every hour,” states Schrage.

Until the cause is determined, the University of Denver is attempting to keep the residents safe and notified of the progress being made through emails sent out to the residents and their parents. “We know the students are concerned, but we wouldn’t put the students back into the building if we thought anyone was at risk,” states Schrage.

“The University of Denver goes above and beyond on almost every case when it comes to the safety of the students,” states Schrage. The University of Denver will continue to investigate the cause of the carbon monoxide issues in Nelson Hall during the six week winter break in efforts to hopefully find and resolve the problem before the students return to the residence halls in January.


2 Responses to Carbon monoxide within Nelson Hall: calling attention to serious issue at DU

  • Hannah Gilham
    Hannah Gilham says:

    This was a great video, very informative and some very interesting interviews. I thought the stand up at the beginning did a good job at framing the situation and the cutting between the concerned students and the facilities director did a great job at outlining the different views of the events. The sound was great, good job at different directions between the interviews, this was an awesome video good job!!

  • Katy Owens
    Katy Owens says:

    You all did a great job with this video! There is lots of variety in the b-roll, which is great since the evacuations happened before the story and you weren’t able to get b-roll of that. This was a great, very informative follow-up story, it looks great!

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