HAZMAT RESPONDS
Smell sickens postal worker
ABBY WEINGARTEN
Herald Staff Writer

MANATEE - A package in the back of a distribution truck emitting a strange, pungent odor overwhelmed a postal worker Tuesday night.

The Manatee County Hazmat Team arrived to put the package in a sealed container, according to Capt. John Mercer at the Manatee County Emergency Communications Center.

Someone at Manasota Postal Distribution Facility at 850 Tallevast Road called the Whitfield Fire Department to isolate the man before the hazmat team arrived, according to Mercer.

The man had just pulled into the Manasota Postal Distribution Facility at 850 Tallevast Road a little before 8 p.m. when he began to feel queasy, Mercer said.

Officials did not know what was inside the package, Mercer said.

"Whatever it was was making one of the postal workers - not sick - but he wasn't feeling well when he opened up the back of his truck," Mercer said.

The container with the package is being kept in the facility for postal inspectors to investigate further, Mercer said.

However, officials did not find any powder and do not believe it was an anthrax scare, Lt. William Evers at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.

"It's probably more of a precaution than anything," Evers said. "I didn't hear anything about any powder, so I don't think it was an anthrax scare. I don't really think they've reached a conclusion."

The hazmat team decontaminated the postal worker by putting him in a child's wading pool, stripping his clothing and hosing him down, Mercer said. They then gave the man other clothing to wear.

The man was doing well after the incident, Mercer said. He did not need any other medical attention, Mercer said.

"It wasn't to the point where we needed to send an ambulance down," Mercer said. "He was walking around and talking. He was fine."

There was concern at the Myakka City Fire District Commissioner's meeting Tuesday night when the alarm that usually alerts firefighters of possible anthrax exposure came through the building.

"That sounds like the alarm for the new anthrax indication system," said Mark Jones, a Manatee County firefighter and paramedic, who was at the meeting.

Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician with Myakka City Fire District Jerry Groover said, "It's not anthrax; it's another situation and the Hazmat team is on its way."

Abby Weingarten, police reporter, can be reached at 745-7095 or at aweingarten@bradentonherald.com.