Carroll to buy protective gear for bioterrorism responders


February 08, 2002|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners agreed yesterday to buy protective equipment for a handful of public health workers who would be called upon to handle biological threats, such as anthrax.

Six disease-control specialists who work with the county Health Department are on call and will be equipped soon with suits and hoods. They will have the gear with them at all times.

"If there is ever a bioterrorism issue, the police would call the Health Department, who would in turn call someone trained in biohazards," said county budget director Steve Powell, who oversees Carroll's risk-management efforts. "These specialists would arrive on the scene with police, and they would be trained in the rules of evidence."

Carroll County had an anthrax scare in October, when a county employee felt a white, gritty powder on her fingers after opening an envelope that contained a water bill payment but had no return address. Emergency workers followed FBI guidelines for dealing with suspected bioterrorism and determined it was a false alarm.

Powell told the commissioners he hopes to recoup the $10,000 cost of the equipment through federal grants. After the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, homeland security has become a top priority, he said.

"There's a lot of money out there to help us," Powell told the commissioners. "We may as well get in there and get what we can."

In addition, the commissioners approved spending $27,000 to improve surveillance at the circuit courthouse. Under Powell's proposal, security cameras would be upgraded from analog to digital to provide a clearer picture.

Powell is working on a detailed analysis of the county's security needs. He hopes to present his findings to the board in coming months.

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