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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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Carter sheriff looks to learn from hazmat emergency at jail

August 23rd, 2011 12:08 am by John Thompson

ELIZABETHTON — Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said his staff will be going through a debriefing process this week to determine if any changes to policy or procedures need to be taken to prevent something similar to the hazardous material incident at the jail Friday night that sent six people to the emergency room and caused a lockdown to a section of downtown Elizabethton.
The problems began when a Carter County deputy arrested a man who was described as having a strong chemical odor on his clothing and skin. The odor led to several individuals becoming ill and a hazmat emergency being declared.
“We will be looking at what happened,” Mathes said Monday afternoon. He said one area that will be considered is the response when the first deputy collapsed.
“They first thought Deputy Holtsclaw had suffered a heart attack, so there was no decontamination conducted,” Mathes said. That meant several others were exposed.
Despite the problems and the frightening moments, Mathes said it was good to know that only six people were taken to the hospital and only a dozen had to be decontaminated.
“Considering what they knew at the time, everything went smoothly,” Mathes said.

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