For release by: Madison Benton, Chief of EMS
Contact: Tyler White, Asst. Chief Public Relations Officer firstname.lastname@example.org
At 8:50 a.m., Western Carolina University Emergency Services received a medical call at our Health and Human Sciences Building.
At 8:53 a.m., WCU Emergency Medical Services were dispatched to a possible Hazmat Incident.
At 9:01 a.m., WCU EMS units arrived on-scene and it was determined that there were multiple patients needing care. Harris Regional EMS as well as other mutual aid was called to assist in managing the incident. WCU Police, Emergency Services and Facilities Management, along with Jackson County Emergency Management, Cullowhee Volunteer Fire Department, and the State of North Carolina’s Rapid Response Team 6 out of Asheville responded to the scene. The building was immediately evacuated and locked down for investigation.
By 9:43 a.m., units from Harris Regional EMS and WCU EMS transported 5 students and 1 professor to nearby Harris Regional Hospital for symptoms including syncope, headache, lightheadedness, and chest tightness. An additional 4 students refused care.
At approximately 10:05 a.m. a fully functioning Field Treatment Area was established by WCU EMS at the Regional Ramsey Activity Center to triage and treat additional patients that were affected by the incident, with full support from University Health Services, including an on-site nurse and physician.
By 1500 hours, a total of 49 patients complaining of similar symptoms were evaluated and treated at the Field Treatment Area. A combined total of 59 patients were evaluated by EMS and University Health Services throughout the entire incident.
WCU Emergency Medical Services would like to thank all of our mutual aid partners who responded for the role they played in successfully managing today’s incident. A special thanks is warranted to WCU Athletics and the staff of the Ramsey Center for allowing us to use their facility and assisting with multiple parts of the operation, to include supplying additional oxygen, exam tables, privacy curtains, and water.
The safety of WCU’s students, staff and faculty is our top priority. Please go to emergency.wcu.edu for updates as they develop.
Additional Information: Western Carolina building evacuated after 'hazardous materials incident,' university says (CNN)