UPDATE as of 12:50 p.m. – Police later determined the “unknown substance” that evacuated the Planned Parenthood clinic was baby food, TPM reported.
UPDATE as of 12:45 p.m. – “Overpacked” cleaning chemicals were the reason for the evacuation of the Sarasota Planned Parenthood, WTSP-TV reported. That report didn’t make any mention of baby food, however.
Hazmat crews are responding to a Planned Parenthood in Sarasota, Florida, after seven people were hospitalized, sickened by by an “unknown substance,” reports said on Monday morning.
The exact nature of the substance, found at the Planned Parenthood’s Sarasota Health Center, isn’t clear, Patch.com reported.
Police, fire, and hazmat units responded to the 736 Central Ave. clinic at around 10:30 a.m. on Monday.
By around 10:45 a.m., six people were transported to local hospitals for an evaluation.
A total of 38 people were in the clinic when the unknown substance starting making people feel ill, the police department said. Everyone will be decontaminated at the scene.
Hazardous materials teams found unknown chemicals inside cleaning closets and packed them up for investigation, Sarasota Police said. They said the victims reported trouble breathing but no life-threatening injuries. It was unclear exactly how they were exposed.
One person declined medical help. 34 others were sent to a bus outside the facility, police added.
According to WFLA-TV, persons inside the building said they felt shortness of breath.
The Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences, a school nearby, was placed on lockdown.
Planned Parenthood issued a statement on the matter:
At Planned Parenthood our top priority is the safety of our patients and staff. The situation at our Sarasota Health Center is still developing. All staff have been evacuated, with seven taken to the hospital to monitor their health. No patients were on site. We are grateful to emergency responders and law enforcement for their quick response.
Here in Florida and across the country, Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record.
We are looking into the cause of this issue and will keep you informed of our progress.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.