Two paramedics were hospitalized on Thursday after responding to a scene on Highway 109.
Both have been released, but what caused their conditions to deteriorate at the premises is currently under investigation by the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO).
Around 11:15 a.m, the first responders were dispatched after a female was reported to be unresponsive inside of a residence on the 8000 block of Highway 109.
According to shift commander Lee Bowling of the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency, an ambulance from Area Station 6 in Laguardo and a fire rescue crew from 231 North were dispatched in response.
The medics were the first unit on the scene. Upon entering the residence they found an unresponsive female inside the home.
Not long thereafter, the paramedics began feeling “off.”
As Bowling put it, the paramedics described the feeling as a “foggy daze.” Realizing something was amiss, they retreated from the residence to the outside with the patient.
When Engine No. 9 arrived on the scene, the ranking lieutenant reported back to county agencies that something was going astray at the 109 call. One of the original paramedics was reportedly experiencing “respiratory issues.”
Meanwhile, the original patient was transported to the back of an ambulance, and was considered to be in critical condition, at the time. Before transporting the patient to Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, the paramedics removed her clothes and performed a sanitization procedure to reduce the possibility that the patient was contaminated in some way that might have caused the paramedics’ disorientation.
During all this time, the original crew that had been inside the residence was still feeling the effects of whatever it was that had caused their disorientation as well. The decision was made to transport these paramedics to the hospital too, but not before the same sanitization measures were taken with them. Both paramedics have since been released from Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, but the condition of the original patient remains undisclosed.
Bowling arrived on the scene not long after, having previously been at the scene of an overturned commercial vehicle.
“By the time I got there, Chief Newberry (WEMA) had already arrived on the scene,” Bowling said.
The responders on scene at that point had turned their attention to the original medic crew. After bagging their uniforms, they transported them to Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital.
Bowling then went into the home with a Tyvek Level B suit and a five-gas meter to see if he could detect any elevated levels of chemical contamination inside the home that might be the culprit behind the first responders’ and patients’ disoriented state.
According to Bowling, he made entry into the residence, but nothing alerted on the gas meter to anything hazardous, leaving them still questioning the cause for what happened. A meter like that detects levels of such chemical compounds in the air as hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen, sulfur dioxide, ammonia and chlorine.
Bowling reported that Newberry had a conversation with law enforcement on the scene that revealed the presence of a significant other on the premises. Bowling said that law enforcement was unable to get much information out of him.
According to the WCSO incident report, that male, who also lives at the address, said that he didn’t know what caused the female’s condition, but that he had poured drain cleaner in the toilet the night before and that they had remained in the residence throughout the night.
When the HAZMAT team did clear the camper, an empty bottle of drain cleaner was reportedly recovered, along with multiple items of drug paraphernalia, per the release. These items included a glass bong, a plastic container with a white residue and a plastic water bottle with a turkey baster taped to it.
Any further investigation into the matter will be conducted by the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.