Fire dept responds to unknown substance at post office
October 28, 2010
<b> FORT STEWART, Ga.</b>
The Fort Stewart Fire Department Hazardous Decontamination Team responded to an unknown substance found at the post office on Fort Stewart around 12 p.m., Oct. 25. After testing, the unknown substance was identified as shaving powder.
A post office employee who came into contact with the powder was admitted to the Winn Army Community Hospital emergency department as a precaution. The patient was treated and released.
"[When the patient entered the emergency room], we were concerned - we always think worst first, so we started with Anthrax," said Col. Paul Cordts, WINN commander. "We didn't let new patients into the emergency room, or allow current patients to leave. We isolated the patient, the staff, and the other patients in the emergency room.
The hospital commander said that hospital staff put on masks to minimize the risk of contamination. He also said that in a similar situation, a patient who fears some kind of contamination should stay where they are, and emergency medical services personnel will come to you.
"That minimized the number of people possibly exposed to a hazardous substance," said Col. Cordts.
"Our response today shows how seriously we value the safety and well-being of our community members here at Fort Stewart," said Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander Col. Kevin Milton. "You always have to respond to an incident like this like it's the real thing every time. This was a great response today to a real-world incident."
Both the post office, building 418 on Hase Road, and the WINN emergency department were closed until 1:45 p.m., when the all-clear was given.
Both Col. Milton and Col. Cordts believe that the exercises that Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield hold twice a year to practice the installation's standard operating procedure helped in the reaction to this situation. Recent scenarios have included a flu pandemic and an active gunman on post.
"With every exercise, real or not, we take the opportunity to learn," Col. Milton said. "The exercises we run twice a year remind everyone that we do have a standard operating procedure that we should refer to."