Carmel office building evacuated; 14 sent to hospital

(WISH Photo)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The Carmel Fire Department evacuated several businesses Thursday, after 14 people were sent to the hospital with sudden flu-like symptoms.

The call came just before 11 a.m. as a potential hazardous odor in the building, located near 106th and Meridian streets, and within minutes several ambulances and hazmat vehicles were on scene.

The department Public Information Officer Tim Griffin told the media that when emergency crews arrived, around 30-40 people were complaining of flu-like symptoms after being in a conference room together since 10 a.m.

“Headache, nausea,” he said. “Fourteen people were taken to area hospitals to be checked out, and three were treated and released on scene.”

People were allowed to return to the building after about two hours.

Troy Woodward, president of RQAW Architecture and Engineering, was in the conference room with his entire staff.

“Actually, it was a health and wellness seminar,” said Woodward. “We do this every month.”

He told me he and his staff actually didn’t smell anything foul in the room but there was certainly a cause for alarm.

“Shortly after it started we had one man fall down and pass out,” he said, “Right after that we all kind of moved over to this guy, and another guy went down face first.”

At that point, Woodward said, he knew it wasn’t an isolated medical emergency and he decided to evacuate his employees and call 911. When emergency responders arrived, they evacuated the entire building and conducted a full hazardous material investigation into each room.

The results of the investigation were inconclusive for Woodward and his team.

“They weren’t able to determine what the cause was,” he said. ” So it’s still a little bit of an unknown for us, which doesn’t make us feel good. I think that everyone would have loved to pinpoint a cause and I think that’s the frustrating part.. Knowing helps you sleep at night.”

Regardless, Woodruff has given his employees the rest of the week off.

“We told everybody to go ahead, go home for the next couple days, take it easy, see their doctor if they need, and come back on Monday,” he said.

As for the sick employees, Woodward told 24-Hour News 8 that the reports coming back from the hospital are good, and he’s optimistic everyone will be OK.

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