Some people in the building felt ill.
Fire department finds no danger.
Air-quality testing set for Thursday.
By Sarayuth Pinthong and Fontaine McClure
Knightly News Reporters
More than 100 people were evacuated from the Advanced Technology Education Center (ATEC) just before 11 a.m. Tuesday because of concerns about air quality in the building after some employees felt ill.
Around 9 a.m., Ronald Amoriello, chief public safety director, received a report of several staff members complaining of headaches and dizziness while in ATEC suite 203/205. Amoriello responded to the location and met with the individuals.
“I got them out of the suite they were in and did some testing (of the building’s electronics systems) to make sure all our systems were up and running,” Amoriello said.
After checking the first and second floors, Amoriello decided to call the East Pennsboro Fire Department to have air-quality checks done.
“We just wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any … issues with contaminants in the air,” Amoriello said.
A CP Alert warning was sent by phone and email at 11:07 a.m. to all employees and students, advising them of the ATEC evacuation, and asking people to stay away from the area.
East Pennsboro’s Northeast Fire & Rescue Station #1, Summerdale, was dispatched about 10:30 a.m. The truck and firefighters arrived quickly from the firehouse on Third Street, near the college.
According to Fire Chief Josh Matter, six to eight people who had been in ATEC required evaluation by emergency medical services personnel. One person was transported to a local hospital for evaluation of an unrelated condition, and returned to the college later in the afternoon.
“We got on scene and did multimeter sweeps,” Matter said. “When more manpower arrived, we conducted another sweep with different multimeters.”
Only normal levels of gases were found in the building, no more than anyone would find in a safe home, Amoriello said.
The “multimeter” tests can detect a variety of gases and other contaminants from fuels in air, according to Amoriello.
Because no readings indicating trouble were found, Matter decided to evacuate the area where people who felt ill had been.
He then instructed Facilities Department personnel to turn on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to conduct a test from the affected room. Another test was conducted after about 20 minutes, and no readings indicating a problem were found. Matter told Central Penn officials about an hour after firefighters arrived that people could return to the building and resume normal activities.
A CP Alert at 11:28 a.m. told recipients – employees and students – that tests of air quality in ATEC detected no threat and the fire department declared the building safe to enter.
Faculty members whose offices are in ATEC203/205 worked in Bollinger Hall while firefighters checked ATEC. Some faculty members who felt ill in the morning assigned Blackboard days for their classes.
Amoriello said an outside firm will conduct air-quality tests in ATEC on Thursday morning. He stated in an email sent at 12:43 p.m. to employees that the Public Safety and Facilities departments “will continue to monitor the situation.”
The last air-quality test in ATEC was conducted about two months ago by an outside agency. No contaminants were found.
East Pennsboro fire police directed traffic on Valley Road away from B Street while firefighters checked ATEC. Two ambulances from East Pennsboro Township Emergency Medical Services parked on the ATEC side of B Street. Medics assessed people who felt ill.
Susquehanna Township’s Heavy Rescue unit 37 and the Hampden Township Fire Department assisted, as did East Pennsboro Township Police.
To comment on this story or to suggest a story, contact TheKnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.edu.
Edited by media club co-adviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi, who contributed to the reporting.