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JUNE 28, 2005


St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center,
2381 Lawrence Road, Lawrence Township

Firefighters from Lawrence Road Fire Co. were among the emergency personnel at the scene of a hazardous materials incident at the St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center at 2381 Lawrence Road during the morning of Tuesday, June 28, 2005.

It was sometime around 10 a.m. when three employees noticed a suspicious white powder on a computer keyboard and on some of their clothing as they were opening mail in the rehab center's first-floor communications office.

They notified their supervisor, who in turn notified Lawrence Township police. As a precaution, all three employees were ordered to stay in the office and the ventilation system to the room was isolated so as to not expose the rest of the facility to the unknown substance.

At 10:24 a.m., the Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 23-10 and dispatched the Lawrenceville Fire Co. to the rehab center, along with automatic mutual aid from the Trenton Fire Department's HazMat team.

Lawrenceville Capt. Butch Bentley arrived at 10:29 a.m., followed at 10:33 a.m. by Assistant Chief Ray Nagy.

At the request of Command 23, a mutual aid engine from Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched at 10:37 a.m. due to no response yet from Station 23 apparatus.

Lawrence Road Chief Wayne Hannon responded at 10:39 a.m. in Car 22, followed by Rescue 22 at 10:41 a.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Rescue Capt. Andrew Fosina, driven by Capt. Michael Ratcliffe (filling in as the day's paid driver), and the crew was Capt. Michael Byrd and Ff. Evan Kutzin.

Hannon and Rescue 22 arrived on location by 10:43 a.m., followed three minutes later by the Trenton Fire Department's Rescue 1 and HazMat 1, under the command of Capt. William Fuhrmann.

Because Lawrence First Aid Squad's duty crew was busy on another assignment at the time, a mutual aid ambulance from Pennington Borough First Aid Squad was dispatched.

Rescue 22's crew was told to set up a hose for possible decontamination duty, while Trenton HazMat personnel suited up in protective clothing and prepared to make entry to the building to take a sample of the suspicious white powder.

At 11:13 a.m., at the request of Command 23, Special Services 27 from Bristol-Myers Squibb Emergency Services was dispatched to the rehab center to stand by as a backup HazMat team and to provide special computer equipment to analyze the substance once a sample was retrieved.

Special Services 27 arrived at 11:23 a.m., about the same time as the Lawrence First Aid Squad duty crew reached the scene to relieve the Pennington Borough ambulance.

Trenton HazMat personnel entered the office at 11:25 a.m. and took a sample of the substance. By 11:40 a.m. the sample was being analyzed by Special Services 27's computer equipment.

By noon, the substance was deemed to be harmless and possibly just the powder from a doughnut or some other kind of danish. EMS personnel check the employees who had been kept in the office, but they showed no signs of any medical problems.

As a result, no decontamination was needed and the assignment was recalled.

Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 12:10 p.m. and was back in quarters two minutes later.

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