Hazmat crews respond to Sarasota Planned Parenthood, 7 treated

WFLA Web Staff - SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) -- The Planned Parenthood in Sarasota was evacuated after a hazmat scare. Employees inside were suffering from respiratory problems because of an unknown substance.

It was a chaotic scene- emergency crews lined the streets, people were carted off in stretchers, officials were cautiously searching the building.

After receiving the 911 call, first responders arrived and rushed seven people to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The remaining 34 people in the building were removed and placed on a bus while the power to the building was shut off. Sarasota County Fire Assistant Chief Bill Hoag said, "We didn't know what we had so we take the worst case scenario and then we develop our plan from there."

When the seven were taken to the hospital, they were brought to a decontamination area where they were washed with water for about four minutes, then each thoroughly scrubbed.

Deputy Chief of Public Safety for the Sarasota County Hospital District Richard Miller said, "The faster we can get them in the decontamination area, get them clean, the faster the medical folks can get them inside the emergency care center."

Back at the scene officials placed a nearby school on lockdown.

As crews in hazmat suits explored Planned Parenthood, they found a powdery substance in a stairwell. Through their investigation, they discovered the unknown substance that made people sick turned out be cleaning solution in a janitor's closet. And the powder on the stairwell was actually baby formula.

Assistant Chief Hoag said, "We feel at this time that it was an accident, an oversight on uncapped cleaning solutions"

As a precaution, officials removed the chemicals from the building to figure out exactly what they were.

Officials are thankful there were no major injuries. The seven people were treated and released.

The CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Barbara Zdravecky said in a statement: 'We are thankful to local law enforcement and emergency responders for quickly managing the situation and ensuring the safety of our staff.'

Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida released the following statement on Monday:

At Planned Parenthood our top priority is the safety of our patients and staff. The situation at our Sarasota Health Center is still developing. All staff have been evacuated, with seven taken to the hospital to monitor their health. No patients were on site. We are grateful to emergency responders and law enforcement for their quick response.

Here in Florida and across the country, Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record.

We are looking into the cause of this issue and will keep you informed of our progress.


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