SCHENECTADY — Multiple agencies responded in hazmat suits to an Edison Avenue rooming house after two residents were sent to the hospital with “serious medical situations,” according to Schenectady Assistant Fire Chief Michael Gillespie.
While Gillespie would not go into any further detail on the hospitalizations, he said investigators believe they are not related to any hazardous chemical activity, but will continue to monitor the residence and check in with residents on their health for the time being.
According to Gillespie, 25 residents were evacuated from 354 Edison Ave. around 6 p.m. when two residents were sent to the hospital in short succession. The building was also recently fumigated for what several residents described as a severe bed bug problem, which led the Schenectady County Emergency Response Team to take maximum precautions and equip agents with hazmat suits.
The Department of Environmental Conservation and Knolls Atomic Power Lab chemical personnel were seen assisting firefighters, who took shifts combing through the building in bright green hazmat suits.
Few details were available for almost three hours as crews examined the property until Gillespie and Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy held an impromptu press conference in front of the remaining fire trucks.
“Hazmat moves slowly because it’s methodical,” Gillespie said. “You want to make sure you’re protecting your people, the residents, and everyone else involved. The worst thing you can do is rush in.”
McCarthy said that the precautions were an example of the coordinated response capabilities of the county, such as bringing in Knolls crews for assistance.
While the status of the two hospitalized remains unknown, McCarthy said that the 25 residents will be taken to a temporary residence for at least the next night while the building remains under inspection.