Emergency services called to Rico Industries twice for sick employees

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By Reece Murphy


Emergency crews were called twice to Rico Industries in Heath Springs on Monday Dec. 23, to treat sick employees.

Lancaster County Emergency Management Deputy Director Darren Player said the illnesses, three in all, did not appear to have been related to any type of environmental contaminants.

Lancaster County EMS responded to the first call about 8 a.m. in regards to an employee who had gotten sick and vomited.

Player said company officials reported the employee was feeling sick before leaving home for work and had taken ibuprofen on an empty stomach, which Emergency crews believed may have contributed to her nausea.

Emergency crews responded to a second call at the wholesale gift and novelty products factory around 11 a.m. after an employee fainted.

Player said like the first employee, the second employee had reported feeling sick before leaving home. That employee, he said, was checked out as fine by EMS.

In an attempt to check on potential environmental factors inside the factory, Player said members the Heath Springs Volunteer Fire Department responded as well to inspect the plant for excess carbon monoxide, but found none.

However, in the process of clearing the factory to conduct the carbon monoxide check, a third employee felt faint and vomited, Player said.

Player said emergency management checked the factory for environmental contaminants itself using a four-gas detection meter and found neither carbon monoxide, combustibles nor hydrogen sulfide.

Player said in the end, none of the three employees were transported, though they did go home in keeping with company policy.

The plant was cleared and employees returned to work.

“It seemed that much of it had to do with people who had previous illnesses,” Player said. “From what plant officials said, they’ve got a number of people out with something like the flu.

“There were no gases involved. It appears to be normal illness and coincidence,” he said.


Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151