Hazmat situation spreads from Richmond to Mechanicsville

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 has uncovered new information about a bizarre hazmat situation that started at a Richmond bank and then spread to a Hanover doctor's office. One of the employees had to be decontaminated and rushed to the hospital.

Monday afternoon, three employees at a bank in Richmond called 911 and complained of sore throats and watery eyes but a fourth worker broke out into a rash on her face and jaw.  She left the scene in the city and drove to the Patient First in Mechanicsville, kicking off a second hazmat situation.

After many tests, though, Richmond hazmat crews couldn't find what caused the employees' symptoms at the M and T Bank on Broad Street.

So when a woman with a skin irritation came into the Patient First and said she worked at that bank, emergency responders locked down the office.  No one was allowed in and no one permitted to go out.

"Us not knowing what she was contaminated with, we kind of had to take the extra mile," explained Hanover Fire Chief Willie Jones.

It's something Hanover practices but doesn't implement every day.  They showed us the precautions they take.

A hazmat suit, gloves and boots are secured.  No one touches the contaminated person. A truck is equipped with a high powered spicket and crews use brushes to get off anything dangerous.

That person then has to take off all of her clothes and anything else that could have been contaminated.  She's given a full body suit.  It is sterile and offers some privacy when she's transported to the hospital.

"If we took her to the hospital without being decontaminated we may increase the problem where all the nurses, the emergency room, things like that they may have the contaminant," Jones said.

That's also why Patient First scrubbed every surface the woman touched while there.  In this case, she was released from the hospital and given the all clear.

Jones thinks the situation gave his crews the opportunity to prove they are ready for anything.

The group also protects the public water supply. Any dirty runoff is collected and properly disposed of, so it never has the chance to get into your faucet.

Investigators haven't determined what caused the woman's symptoms, but declared M and T Bank safe.  It will reopen Tuesday morning.

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