EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Eau Claire Police Department said it is updating telecommunication policies after a dispatcher gave a caller the wrong information on what to do when she came across needles in her neighborhood.
Anita Solchaga of Eau Claire said she found three capped needles on the street in her neighborhood on Tuesday, likely medical needles. They were on the pavement in the 500 block of Starr Ave. Not wanting any children to get hurt, she said she called the police non-emergency line asking what to do.
“The dispatcher said to just pick them up and throw them away and I didn't think it was safe. If doctors’ offices that have sharps containers for reason why would the police just tell me to put leather gloves on and just throw them away?” said Solchaga.
Officer Kyle Roder with Eau Claire Police admits the dispatcher misinformed Solchaga.
“We receive hundreds of calls a day on various topics and our telecommunicates and our police officers try their best to answer the question and the public expects that of us, but unfortunately in this situation we gave the improper information so we're looking into updating our standards to the best practices that are out there and making sure something like this isn't happening again in our community,” said Roder.
He said police officers and dispatchers are not medical professionals, so the public should contact pharmacies or the DNR on information regarding needles. The DNR said it's illegal in Wisconsin to put sharps in the trash or with recyclables.
Following her intuition, Solchaga said she safely brought the needles over to Marshfield Clinic. Pharmacy manager Bruce Bergmann said Solchaga did the right thing.
“Of someone brings in a single syringe we'd dispose of it properly for them, if you go through our clinic there are sharps disposals throughout the clinic for single need disposal,” said Bergmann.
He said needles and sharps can lead to injury and spread of disease.
“Garbage carriers are very concerned with this, it's actually illegal in the state of Wisconsin to dispose it directly in your garbage,” said Bergmann.
Solchaga said her biggest concern was for the kids in her neighborhood.
“We have at least 20 kids here on the block. Yes, it's a short street on Starr Avenue here but there's 20 kids and you never know who's going to pick them up and find them. I'm a single mother of two and safety is my big concern,” she said.
Marshfield Clinic also said if you find a needle, put it in something sturdy like Tupperware or a laundry detergent jug and bring it to a designated collection site.
The state Department of Natural Resources is urging people to safely dispose of sharp medical equipment such as needles, syringes and lancets.
It's illegal in Wisconsin to put sharps in the trash or with recyclables. DNR officials say needle sticks are one of the most common workers' compensation injuries in the state's garbage collection industry.
The DNR has set up a new link on its website to tips on safe disposal, including taking sharps to a registered collection station, clipping needles off syringes and putting the syringes in the trash and purchasing a needle destruction device.
Bureau of Waste Management List of Registered Sharps Collection Stations:
County: Eau Claire
Region: West Central Region
EAU CLAIRE PHARMACY 2741 N CLAIRMONT AVE SUITE E EAU CLAIRE WI 54703 BRUCE MILLER (715)833-6767
GROUP HEALTH PUTNAM PHARMACY 407 E CLAIREMONT AVE EAU CLAIRE WI 54701 STACY HINDEN (715)552-7210
MAYO CLINIC HEALTH SYSTEM CLAIREMONT CAMPU733 W CLAIREMONT AVE EAU CLAIRE WI 54701 PHARMACIST (715)838-5000
MAYO CLINIC HEALTH SYSTEM DOWNTOWN 325 E MADISON ST EAU CLAIRE WI 54703 PHARMACIST (715)838-1800
MAYO CLINIC HEALTH SYSTEM LUTHER CAMPUS 1400
BELLINGER ST EAU CLAIRE WI 54703 PHARMACIST (715)838-6000
SACRED HEART HOSPITAL 900 W CLAIREMONT AVE EAU CLAIRE WI 54701 LABORATORY (715)717-4232
VALU CENTER 2157 EAST RIDGE CENTER EAU CLAIRE WI 54701 GEORGIA CARLSON (715)833-6777
VALUE CENTER PHARMACY 2221 HIGHLAND AVE EAU CLAIRE WI 54701 DAVE KLEINGARTNER (715)833-6760