UPDATE: Bashaw post office shut after suspicious package breaks
Members of the RCMP's drug and hazardous materials team perform a test on the unknown powder inside a large package left at the back of the Bashaw post office March 15.
A normal day in Bashaw turned into a sideshow following a package broke open at the local post office.
At about 10:30 a.m. on March 15, Bashaw RCMP along with EMS and the Bashaw Fire Department responded to the scene after a report of a Canada Post employee coming into contact with an unknown substance. In the end, the substance was determined to be of a non-suspicious nature
The employee had attempted pick up a large package that had been left outside the backdoor of the postal outlet, which slipped through the employee’s hands, breaking the seal on it and allowing the powdered substance inside to spray onto the employee.
The immediate area of the post office evacuated, taped off and closed to the public. In addition, the package was isolated and secured by police and firefighters until the RCMP’s Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) Team was able to arrive about five hours later.
CLEAR team members geared up in protective suits and breathing equipment in order to remove and identify the substance.
The team took several samples, including the outside and inside of the package as well as the powdered contents of three plastic bags that were found inside the package.
“The substance was found not to be either fentanyl or any other potentially toxic substance or opioid,” said RCMP spokesperson Laurel Scott in a phone interview. “The RCMP take all reports like this as serious. Not to say we are hyper-vigilant, but until it can be determined otherwise, caution needs to be exercised in these situations.”
However, prior to the CLEAR team arriving, one RCMP officer, a firefighter plus EMS staff and the ambulance also came into contact with the substance, which could have seen the incident escalate had the substance been determined to be harmful.
As it was, the Canada Post employee along with the others were medically cleared at the scene and no decontamination procedures were necessary on the fire or EMS equipment.
Deputy fire chief Jordan Lee said the joint operation went well.
“All personnel from all units did a excellent job. I’m proud of how all my firefighters performed,” he stated, adding the other fire department members not on scene did a great job in providing coverage for two medical assistance calls during the incident.
The area was finally reopened around 5:30 p.m. and the post office opened as usual the next morning.
Cpl. Scott added that the RCMP thanked the public for all the cooperation shown, after being inconvenienced for much of the day at one of the busiest intersections in town.