Approximately 29 people were transported by ambulance to area hospitals after experiencing similar symptoms at a west-side health clinic. The cause is still unknown.
The Madison Fire Department was initially called to the UW Health West Clinic at 10:30 a.m. Friday to investigate a commercial fire alarm activation. While on scene, occupants reported to firefighters they were feeling ill. MGE was asked to respond to look into the possibility of a gas leak.
MGE confirmed there was no natural gas leak occurring, but as ten additional patients began experiencing similar symptoms, ambulances and the Madison Fire Department’s Hazardous Incident Team (HIT) were summoned to the clinic. The building was evacuated, and more patients continued to self-report their symptoms to first responders.
The MFD HIT further corroborated that there was no natural gas leak. They also ruled out carbon monoxide, and interior oxygen levels were normal. After a thorough two-hour investigation of the entire facility, there were no conclusive determinations about what caused dozens of people to feel ill. The HIT did conclude there were no imminent hazards present, and the building was turned back over to UW Health around 1:30 p.m. Employees collected their belongings, and the clinic is closed for the remainder of Friday.
As one ambulance pulled away from the clinic and proceeded down Junction Road, the smell of sewer gas wafted into the ambulance. One patient in the ambulance said the smell was very similar to what she smelled inside the clinic, although no such odor was detected by the Madison Fire Department, MGE, or UW Health facilities staff during the investigation.
UW Health is exploring whether it’s possible sewer gas somehow entered the building. Their investigation into the incident continues.
Pictured: MFD crews, including the Hazardous Incident Team, conduct a briefing outside UW Heath West Clinic.
Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)