A bomb threat called in Tuesday to an Independence nursing facility forced staff and emergency personnel to evacuate 150 residents for a couple hours on a chilly afternoon.
Independence Police received a call from Carmel Hills Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center at 1:21 p.m., immediately after Carmel Hills received the bomb threat. After police and fire personnel quickly responded, Carmel Hills staff decided to evacuate the facility.
Though staff had to wheel residents outside when temperatures were in the low-to-mid 40s, they were able to transport residents to other nursing facilities. By 3:30 p.m., emergency personnel had searched Carmel Hills and not found anything and staff and residents had been given an all clear to return. A small army of ambulances, medical transport vans and even some IndeBus buses helped transport residents.
“We knew at that point, when they had everybody out, that the search (for a possible bomb) was coming to a conclusion,” said John Syme, public information officer for IPD, “but it's still an open investigation. We're still determining where the threat came from.”
Mo Polstein, director of operations for Redwood Post Acute Network, which manages Carmel Hills, said the response was “very swift” and helped by the fact that Redwood had other facilities nearby, such as on Swope Drive a few minutes east.
“We were able to have other facilities respond within moments with blankets, with food, with nurses – staff, we outnumbered our residents with staff members today,” Polstein said. “I was really impressed with the response from the facility, from the fire department, from the police department, to make sure everybody was warm and everybody was taken care of.
“An unfortunate situation where someone would call and make those type of threats, but we take that very seriously,” Polstein said, “and I'm just proud of the fact people responded the way they did, immediately.”
Upon residents' return, Polstein said staff were double-checking each one to make sure they felt well. Some of them were simply tired.
“We're passing hot cocoa; we're passing out tea and coffee,” Polstein said. “Some folks are telling us, 'I'm happy to be back in my room; I'm going to take a nap now.'”