Farmington call center evacuated two days in a row
By: CJ Cassidy
By: CJ Cassidy
FARMINGTON, Mo. - For the second day in a row, a Heartland call center is evacuated. Wednesday, close to 160 workers from Accent Marketing in Farmington had to leave the building because of a mystery illness.
Workers complained of itchy eyes, and respiratory symptoms, and dozens were brought to hospitals. Thursday, another evacuation - this one after police say someone called in a bomb threat from a payphone, around 1 p.m.
Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker says the caller made a reference to Wednesday's incident. He wouldn't comment on much else, except to say they were trying to figure out which payphone the call came from.
Employees standing out in the rain after the evacuation say they have their suspicions. "Revealing our information, who we are and what company we're under - we keep it confidential, but now it's out, and it makes you wonder how safe it is," Jason Sampson says.
He and wife Erica both work as customer service representatives for Accent Marketing. They say the name of the company's largest client - Sprint, was kept a secret until Wednesday. That's when the mystery illness affected close to 160 employees and the secret came out.
When asked about the secrecy involving the company location, Jason says, "They try to keep it as generic as possible. We're in Missouri, that's about it. It's to try to protect the company. Some customers take offense to billing charges, never know what's happening, people may get angry enough to do something."
So the order to evacuate, worried the Sampsons. "We were on the phone, and we got a message on the intercom saying disconnect calls, sign out, grab your things, and leave the building," Jason says.
Chief Baker doesn't know if the threat is linked to Wednesday's mystery illness. Investigators don't know what caused the sickness to begin with. "We don't know if it was accidental or caused by someone. We have asked the hospital to check and see if any of the blood samples of the three victims who were admitted might have had anything unusual in it," Baker says. "We don't have any reason to believe there's a disgruntled employee or someone who wished us harm," Human Resources Manager Stacy Spradling says.
That still leaves the Sampsons with plenty of unanswered questions. "What can we do to prevent what's being done with Accent? I like my job. I don't like what's going on," Erica Sampson says.