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Monday, May 16, 2011

Firefighters Investigate Strong Odor at Hospital- Final Update

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Prince George's County Firefighters and Medics are on location at a hospital dealing with a strong pungent odor with patient relocation required.

Just before 8:00 pm fire/EMS units responded to Southern Maryland Hospital at 7503 Surrats Road in Clinton. A strong pungent odor was detected in the area of the emergency room.

As a precaution the waiting room and patients in the ER were relocated to other areas of the hospital not effected by the situation.

Washington Gas Company personnel arrived quickly and determined the odor was not natural gas. The Fire/EMS Departments Hazardous Materials Team will attempt to identify and track down the source of this strong odor.

In addition to firefighters and the haz-mat team, several EMS units are on location assisting in moving patients and standing-by to assist people attempting to visit the ER. At least one of these patients has been transported to another facility. The Department's Ambulance Bus is standing-by on the scene in the event a large number of patients need to be moved.

There are 35 firefighters and medics on location with close to another 12 members of the hazardous materials team.

Currently, the hospital is closed to new patients and all patients and staff inside the hospital have been moved to a safe location.

10:00 pm UPDATE

The hazardous materials team conducted a re-con of the ER and waiting room with a variety of monitoring devices.  No detectable hazards were found and the odor has dissipated.  While the "all-clear" has been given for the ER, the haz-mat team is continuing to check other areas of the hospital including the buildings propane tanks.  Some fire/EMS units have been released and the hospital will start to transition back to normal operations over the course of the evening.

10:30 pm UPDATE

At about 10:20 pm, an "all clear" was sounded as the source of the strong pungent odor was identified and deemed safe.  The haz-mat team traced the odor to the buildings propane storage tanks.  For unknown reasons there was a heavy residual odor of propane in the area of the storage tanks earlier in the evening.  The wind pushed the propane odor from the tanks over to the emergency room entrance which generated the initial calls for assistance.  The odors have since dissipated.  Haz-mat team members are working with the building engineers to isolate the storage tanks and have requested the propane gas supplier to the scene to coordinate any repairs.  All Fire/EMS units, with the exception of the haz-mat team, have returned to service.

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