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Sulfur-like smell prompts scare in St. Joseph Medical Center's emergency room

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 14 2012 06:19:42 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2012 04:54:25 AM CST

ER scare at St. Joe's

BERN TWP., Pa. -

The reported smell of sulfur inside the emergency room caused some tense moments at St. Joseph Medical Center in Bern Twp., Berks Co.,, Wednesday night.

Dozens of firefighters from across the county rushed to the hospital to find the source of the strange smell.

"It had a distinct sulphur-type smell, similar to like a clogged drain or even a fresh perm," said Cheif Brian Fisher, Greenfields Fire Company.

For about an hour the emergency room stopped receiving patients.

Firefighters not only searched inside the building, but combed the roof, checking heating units for the strange smell.

Some folks visiting the hospital were surprised by all the activity.

"I was concerned because we were just in there and nothing was happening. And we walk out and there's all these fire trucks," said Tiffany Noll.

It turns out the source of the smell was an overheated battery in a mobile computer terminal, which is used to register patients.

"As soon as we rolled the unit outside the emergency room, conditions inside immediately got 100% better," said Chief Fisher.

Hospital officials indicate they were reassured by the massive response of firefighters.

"We have this kind of a turn out for a reason, because until you figure out what it is, you'd rather have the resources here and be able to help, than to not have them here and need them," said Mike Jupina, vice president of communications and marketing, St. Joseph Regional Health Network.

The emergency room returned to receiving patients around 7:45 Wednesday night.