Accidental Pepper Spray Discharge at a Credit Union, Bel Air, MD 21014

Category: Article • September 8, 2023

A local Harford County financial institution had an accidental discharge of pepper spray that impacted the credit union operation on one of the busiest days of the week, Friday afternoon.  The credit union was preparing for a busy evening when a customer accidentally released a standard size pepper spray while inside the building.

Immediately all the employees and customers onsite were impacted by the pepper spray discharged.  They had problems breathing, coughing and watery eyes. Everyone had to leave the credit union immediately.

Let’s be honest…we’ve all accidentally hit the ‘alarm’ button on our car key fob…intending to hit the lock or unlock button.  Five seconds of panic…and embarrassment…and it’s over.  Not so when pepper spray is discharged in a closed environment with re-circulated air!

Pepper spray causes irritation of the eyes, skin, and mucus membranes.  If inhaled, it will irritate and inflame the throat and lungs, making it difficult to breathe.  Those with underlying respiratory issues…COPD, Asthma, Emphysema, etc.…are especially at risk.  Although pepper spray is categorized as “non-lethal”, there have been cases of death reported.

And when the cannister was accidentally discharged, the employees reacted quickly, evacuated the building immediately: employees and customers.

With everyone safely out of the building, an emergency call was placed to the Elegant Restoration team.  Our Team already had an established relationship with the financial institution with an emergency response plan (ERP) in place, making the call more efficient.

Here’s where that business relationship really comes into play!

  • The Team from ‘Elegant’ arrived quickly, fully equipped to handle the cleanup of the bio-hazard chemical.  When dry no issue, but if any moisture comes in contact with the pepper spray it is re-activated and causes irritation to eyes and mucus membranes.
  • Appropriate Personal Protection Equipment…PPE…for all who were entering the building.
  • The correct chemicals, approved to neutralize the effects of the pepper spray were used to clean all surfaces.
  • Air Scrubbers were deployed to remove the air-borne particles.
  • Inspected the HVAC system in the building.
  • And all surfaces…including the hard and soft furnishings…were manually wiped down, to remove any particulate residue to prevent any secondary contamination for employees and staff.

  • It’s one level of trust to work with a preferred partner in the safety and security of the building.

Do you have the trust with the professionals that you work with?

If not, then perhaps it’s time for a new set of professionals, ones that you can trust your business.

There’s one more aspect of TRUST worth mentioning.

Banks and other Financial Institutions have strict rules of engagement, regulating and obligating them to allow access to depositors’ funds.  There are set days and hours when access must be available.  For our client, knowing they had partnered with a TRUSTED Team meant no worries or doubts the doors would soon be open again, safely, for employees and customer access on Saturday morning.

Not every situation is as dramatic or sudden as this one, but do you really want to take that risk in your business?

And that’s the Value of TRUST.

It’s very closely related to CHARACTER, best defined as your conduct NOT when eyes are watching, but when they are NOT.

You can’t prevent all disasters, but with the Elegant Restoration Disaster ERP Plan in place, you can build a relationship with a trusted partner, especially for work in secure and sensitive locations.  You can also learn valuable information about your building to identify critical shutoffs are located.  With a Trusted Partner who is only a phone call or “APP” away, you can rest easier, knowing help is only a call or click away.

Bob Sansbury,

Commercial Account Partner

Elegant Restoration