I was scrolling through my news feed this morning when a post from the local Fire Department info page caught my eye. I read the statements “Suspicious Package. Niagara County Hazmat Team and US Airforce Hazmat Team from Niagara Falls Air Base requested to scene.” and I immediately started to look for more information. The location of the scene is not only within a few hundred feet of Niagara Falls and the Canadian border, but it is approximately 8 miles from my office and only 1.5 miles from my daughter’s elementary school. In this industry, I hear about hazmat incidents every day, but this one hit close to home.
Thanks to social media, I was able to get real time updates on the situation from the Facebook pages of The Niagara Gazette, Niagara County Fire Wire and Niagara Falls Fire Department Calls and Info. These sources were reporting information broadcast over public scanners. Local news stations hadn’t yet started to report the story. An envelope with a suspicious material was discovered in the human resources department. Employees were evacuated as a precaution. The Air Reserve team was on site first, with the county team in route to assist them. The hazmat team was directed to take samples, check the package for any additional suspicious content and to photograph the package. Initial data lead the Hazmat Command to believe that the package contained crushed medication, but further testing is needed to confirm.
It has now been 1 hour since the first posts from local departments hit social media and the local news channels are starting to report the incident on their pages. Since the immediate concern has passed, the updates have slowed. It was reported that 10-20 employees would require decontamination if the substance was determined to be hazardous. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that will be necessary. It was very interesting to me to “watch” these events unfold in real time and see how quickly teams are able respond when needed.