Tyson Fresh Meats evacuated its beef packing plant in Lexington, NE, late Tuesday morning after an ammonia leak.

A rescue unit got the call at 11:27 a.m. for a 45-year-old female who had reportedly passed out, but was breathing. The dispatcher said it was uncertain if her condition was due to the leak.

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Lexington Police responded to help out the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office because when the call came there were no deputies nearby, said department captain Paul Schwarz. The Tyson plant is not within the city limits.

Prior to the rescue call, Tyson had reported an ammonia leak.

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Schwarz said he believe the leak came during some maintenance. “It was contained quickly. They cleared the building to be safe,” he said.

Schwarz said law enforcement was only on site for a short time. “I don’t think they even responded,” he said of the sheriff’s office. “It was contained quite quickly.”

In total, the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department made at least three runs to the hospital and transported five patients for possible exposure, said Schwarz.

About an hour after the first rescue call, the hospital advised those on the scene not to transfer any more patients. Instead Lexington Regional Health Center (LRHC) sent staff to Tyson to conduct triage there.

LRHC treated 20 patients within a three-hour window, said LeAnn Muegert, LRHC director of health information management and privacy officer. She said one patient was transferred in critical condition and two patients were admitted to LRHC for further observation and were in stable condition as of Tuesday evening. The rest of the patients were treated and released.

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