Many veterans come to the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Cecil County for treatment, but it was an employee here who hadn't even left her car in the parking lot who suffered a medical emergency on Wednesday.
She was on fire.
"We just saw her clothes. Her shirt was burned and her pants were burned," said Perry Point Fire Chief Andrew Bannon, who spoke with the victim who suffered first and second degree burns to her right thigh and torso. "She just said that she wasn't exactly sure what had happened when we first talked to her that she just felt like an odd feeling in her pocket and she heard like a 'whoosh', and that's when she discovered the fire. That's when she got out of her vehicle and made her way inside to the hospital."
Investigators with the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office believe some otherwise harmless items combined with the e-cigarette or vape battery to create a potentially deadly reaction.
"She was carrying a lithium ion battery inside her pocket along with a cell phone and some coins, and we surmise that the coins actually ended up creating a connection between the electrodes causing a short circuit and therefore the lithium ion battery exploded in her pocket," said Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire.
Delaware State Police airlifted the victim, 38-year-old Dannielle Wood, who is an employee at the VA, to Christiana Hospital for treatment---just the latest casualty of explosions tied to the batteries, which contain a flammable liquid that can ignite with little or no warning.
"Along with the rise of e-cigarettes, we have seen injuries across the state and, again, it's typically not the e-vape cigarette, itself. It's just the battery," said Alkire. "You got to think those little lithium ion batteries contain a lot of energy in a small amount of space, and with the right conditions, it can cause fire or significant injury."
Fire officials say you should never carry lithium ion batteries where they can come into contact with anything metal---your cell phone, your car keys or small change.
The victim has since been transferred to the Crozer Burn Center in Philadelphia for additional treatment.