Suspicious package draws heavy response | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | October 26, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: October 26, 2016 at 10:55 am
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
Colleton County Sheriff’s Office investigators are continuing to probe an Oct. 22 incident that forced a temporary relocation of Colleton Medical Center’s Emergency Department.
The hazardous materials incident which led to the relocation began when a Colleton County man arrived at the Emergency Department a little after 7 p.m. on Oct. 22.
The man, brought to the medical center by another person, told emergency department personnel that he had immediately suffered discomfort after opening a package that had arrived in the mail.
He brought the suspicious package with him to the medical center.
Colleton County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Lt. Shane Roberts said the man had opened the package and immediately started itching all over.
The package, apparently mailed from overseas, contained what Roberts said were “odds and ends.”
Roberts would not specify was in the package other to say that the items were not new, and the man had said that he had not ordered anything through the mail.
When the man and his package arrived in the emergency department, the package was isolated in an examining room and medical personnel immediately called emergency dispatch center to report the incident.
Colleton County Fire-Rescue sent firefighter-paramedics and the department’s HazMat team.
Walterboro sent members of the police and fire departments. The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office sent deputies.
The medical center’s parking lot outside the entrance to the emergency department became clogged with emergency vehicles, the night awash in blue and red emergency lights. The driveway on the east side of the medical center, the one leading to the emergency department was closed to traffic.
The personnel and patients inside the emergency department were relocated to the Care Unit in another section of the medical center.
One ambulance was diverted to Trident Medical Center during the incident. After an hour and a half, the medical center was cleared to resume normal operations.
HazMat technicians used a variety of testing equipment to check the box and its contents and determined it was not dangerous. The product proved to be non-hazardous, and they removed the offending package.
Roberts said that the contents of the package have been sent to a lab to determine what inside the box might have caused the man’s discomfort. The man was treated and released from the medical center.
Walterboro public safety forces initially began handling the incident. Later, after determining that the incident started at a home outside the city limits, the investigation was turned over to the sheriff’s office.
U.S. Postal Inspectors have also joined the investigation.