Tuesday, February 03, 2004

There was some excitement at work tonight that I thought I’d post about. In the lab we use a device called an autoclave to sterilize instruments, equipment, and some solutions. It’s basically a big pressure cooker (about the size of a large oven). I put a solution in it today at about 3:30pm to sterilize, which normally takes 30 minutes of cooking then a few minutes to exhaust the steam. I checked the autoclave at 4:30pm before I wanted to get ready to go and it was still running. In fact it was running hotter than it was supposed to (137 degrees Celsius), and the pressure was higher than it was supposed to be. Basically it’s like a bomb. So I wait a little longer to see if it turns off and nothing happens, so I figure I better look for someone who know how to shut this thing down (buttons aren’t working at this point).

Being that it’s 5pm most everyone has gone home, so I call the Office of Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Safety (ORCBS), but they’re all gone too. So I have to instead call the Department of Public Safety, who sends a police office and the fire department, all to turn off an autoclave! The end of the story is that the university Physical Plant sent some guys over to manually turn off the steam running to the machine and then to carefully exhaust the contents of the machine. I guess it’s more boring that I thought… but now you’ve read it. :-) -------------CMN

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