Some affected by air quality in Santa Cruz

May 22, 2008 7:24:48 PM PDT
The poor air quality in the surrounding area is especially difficult for people with respiratory problems.

Air quality conditions have improved in Watsonville remarkably, although it is still very hazy. The air quality was very poor, and hospital employees were giving out masks.

The conditions have improved partly because of the winds, since it is much windier now that it has been in the past.

It was a different story on Thursday morning.

As the fire grew, a cloud of smoke headed south to the Watsonville area.

Farm workers struggled as the quality of the air quickly worsened. Many covered their faces with bandanas to protect themselves from the smoke.

"The smoke, the condition of the air," said farm worker Jazmin Garcia.

"How bad is it out here?" asked ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.

"It's really bad," said Garcia.

"Is it hard to work?" asked ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.

"Yeah, a little. It's uncomfortable," said Garcia.

At Watsonville Community Hospital, the staff got ready to deal with patients with respiratory issues.

"The hospital staff is geared up for this. The respiratory therapists are on alert, on call, hopefully they will be available. We have all our oxygen tubing sorted out and are ready to take car of more respiratory illnesses than we normally see. Hopefully we won't see them," said Dr. Sterling Lewis from Watsonville Community Hospital.

Doctors were advising those nearby residents with respiratory problems to keep their medication handy and to stay indoors.

On Thursday afternoon, the smoke forced some farm workers to call it a day.

One of the workers said if our workers tell us they can't work because of the heavy smoke, we will order everyone to stop.

And so he did.

The staff at Watsonville Community Hospital are on alert and ready to deal with the worst. Not a single patient has been treated for respiratory problems there.


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