Investigation: Life-saving meds being kept in improper conditions

Temperatures found to be dangerously high in county medical storage building

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has made an alarming discovery within the DeKalb County Fire Department.%



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We found that lifesaving medicines you may need in an emergency were being kept in a building without central air conditioning or heat.

The drugs are supposed to be kept at room temperature, which generally means they need to be kept at 68 to 77 degrees.

A lack of air flow has also created an uncomfortable work environment for the county employees assigned to the fire supply facility. Channel 2 investigative reporter Erica Byfield toured it with a temperature gauge.

Fire supply is where you will find extra flak jackets, tools, flashlights, medicines -- almost everything a firefighter would need to save a life.

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Leaders keep the drugs behind a locked door in a locked cabinet in a room with a portable air-conditioning unit. A county-owned thermometer in the drug room read 81 degrees.

Byfield used WSB-TV's thermometer around the facility, and at one point she clocked 87 degrees and then 86 degrees in a hallway.

"It's not acceptable," said Dr. Cedric Alexander, DeKalb County's public safety director.%



He admitted Byfield’s questions led him to call for an audit of every single drug in the building.

Drugs at the wrong temperature for long periods can lose strength.

“It's not a comfortable situation for us, but we're going back; I asked for a complete assessment to be made," Alexander said.

County leaders moved supplies into the building with no central heat or air in October of 2015 after Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, announced plans to build the Atlanta United soccer complex near the county jail. Ultimately Blank's plan fell through.

Even so, supplies are still in the building on Memorial Drive.

Byfield learned the people who worked there began complaining about the extreme heat in June.

Alexander told Byfield county leaders ordered an air-conditioning unit on the same day she interviewed him.

"The optics of it look like we are responding to this as a result of your injury, but here is what I want to note: Whatever we did or did not do or should have been done, these air conditioners should have been ordered long before now," he said.

He added the air conditioning unit should be delivered in six-eight weeks, then installation is expected to take two weeks.