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OPP fitted with harzardous material protective suits

By Rick Pusiak Sudbury police are getting some gear from the Public Safety and Security Ministry that could come in handy one day.
By Rick Pusiak

Sudbury police are getting some gear from the Public Safety and Security Ministry that could come in handy one day.
Bob Runciman

The local OPP detachment will receive special suits to protect officers against chemical and biological substances including anthrax.

Greater Sudbury Police haven?t received word on their allotment.

Minister of Public Safety and Security Bob Runciman, announced Thursday a total 3,800 hazardous materials suits will be distributed across the province.

Some 1,200 of the packages have been allocated to the OPP with the balance being sent to municipal and First Nations police services based on the number of requests and the size of department.

OPP Staff Sgt. Dan Hefkey said the Sudbury detachment will get some suits, but the exact number has yet to be determined.

He noted the suits are a significant first step in providing personal protective equipment to first-line responders who in turn are better able to protect community members.

?This isn?t just for large urban centres,? explained the North Bay-based staff sergeant.

?It was nice to see that this is going to go throughout the province.?

Greater Sudbury Police Sgt. Loretta Ronchin agreed the suits are a good idea, but she?s hoping to see more steps.

She said it helps out when the province picks up the tab to properly outfit officers because scarce dollars don?t have to be spent at the local level.

Ronchin added the suits will help out in non-terrorist incidents like spills or at landfill sites where officers have to handle hazardous materials.

The suit purchase is part of the government?s promise to increase security measures in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

The equipment will come in kits composed of a Kimberly-Clark Ultra Protective Clothing ensemble that include state-of-the-art filter/respirators, coverall, gloves and boot covers.

In addition to offering protection against organic vapours, the filter chosen for the package is designed to protect against common military agents like sarin, di-ethyl methol phosphonate, and hydrogen cyanide.

A biohazard disposal bag and a carrying case are part of the package.

The $1 million purchase of personal protection equipment has been applauded by the Ontario Association of the Chiefs of Police.

The province acted quickly after Sept. 11 to create anti-terrorism and rapid response policing units. Provincial fire and police colleges were expanded to enhance anti-terrorism and emergency management training. Emergency Measures Ontario?s annual budget was more than doubled to enhance the province?s emergency preparedness and assist municipalities with planning and training.