Deputies Speak Out After Hospital Lockdown
Washington County Hospital and a nearby highway were back open Wednesday after a package of white powder forced the hospital to go on lockdown.
Authorities did not reveal what the white substance was, but they were treating the case as a criminal investigation.
A Mediacom employee found and opened the letter Wednesday morning, Washington County Manager David Peoples said. Another employee and two deputies also checked out the letter.
"We never touched the substance and never touched the letter," Deputy Maurice Perry said of the situation.
"[The employees] were calm. [The employee] notified us so we could step in and do what we needed to do," Corporal Kevin Miller said.
Miller has been training Deputy Perry for the past three months and said encountering a situation like this was new territory for the both of them.
"I worked here for nearly 10 years and to my knowledge this is the first time," he said.
"You know the letter was laying on the counter. We took a look and then Kevin pretty much looked at me and said we might need to contact someone else," Deputy Perry said.
The two deputies and two employees were told to go to the nearby hospital and take decontaminating showers, Peoples said.
Per regulations, Washington County Hospital was locked down upon their arrival, Peoples said. The hospital remained closed for nearly six hours.
After being checked out by a doctor the foursome had to wait with everyone else.
"It was a little nerve-racking having to just sit and wait. [We were] not able to communicate with anyone. [We were] kinda isolated to some degree from everybody else," Corporal Miller said.
State hazardous materials officials were called to the scene. However, after some field testing on the substance they said it is not harmful.
An area of Highway 32 was also shut down, but had since been reopened.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office have not said what the substance is but they are considering this a criminal investigation.
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