Table of Contents
- What Is PPE in the First Place?
- Donning PPE Can Help Protect Against Bullets
- PPE as a Safety Precaution for Contagion and Infection
- A Barrier for Biological and Chemical Threats
- Shielding Against Explosions
- Increasing PPE Effectiveness through Decontamination
- Personal Protective Equipment Protects Our Servers and Protectors
Almost 9 million estimated crimes in total — that’s how many criminal activities took place in the U.S. in 2017. Of this, 7.7 million were property crimes, while the rest were violent crimes.
With so many law-breakers in the country, it’s no wonder 60,211 officers ended up assaulted that year. Moreover, 29% of these assaulted officers suffered injuries.
Sadly, these crimes also led to 129 law enforcement officer deaths in 2017. The death toll worsened in 2018, with 144 officers having died in the line of duty.
All these highlights how important donning PPE is for law enforcement on duty. Personal protective equipment can make all the difference in life and death situations.
The question is, why exactly does PPE play such a big role in the lives of officers? What exactly can they do to safeguard those who serve and protect?
We’ll uncover the most important facts about PPE gear in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
What Is PPE in the First Place?
Personal Protective Equipment is equipment that protects users against health and safety risks. The specific type of PPE to wear depends on the nature of the user’s work. In general, these include safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, and safety footwear.
Law enforcement workers, however, need increased protection against their constant exposure to violence. They are also at the mercy of contagious and infectious human and animal diseases. They also face the dangers of infected needles, chemical threats, and biological hazards.
Because they face greater and more risks, law enforcement workers need specialized PPE. They need to have access to protective gear that is effective against these threats.
Donning PPE Can Help Protect Against Bullets
As of July 2019, 24 law enforcement officers were already gunned down and killed. While the circumstances vary, they all point to one thing: the need for bullet-proof vests.
This is why Kevlar vests are among the most important PPE equipment for officers. Kevlar is the top material choice for bullet protection as it has high impact resistance. And while it also boasts high tensile strength, it’s also lightweight.
PPE as a Safety Precaution for Contagion and Infection
Infectious diseases are the third-leading cause of deaths in the United States. Bacteria and viruses are two of the most common causes of such health risks. Many of these dangers are contagious, and they can spread from one person to person.
Contagious infections can spread by touching or being near an infected person. Their infected bodily fluids can transfer to and infect another person. Even the objects that infected people touch can already be a source of infection.
In fact, the air that the infected exhale can already spread the disease. When they breathe out, talk, or cough, infectious microbes get released into the air.
That’s why officers need to don respiratory protective equipment. They should wear RPE before they even enter a suspected disease-infected area.
They should also wear gloves whenever they pat down suspects or perform a body search. These people may be holding used syringes, which can quickly poke the skin. A single poke of an infected syringe can already spread the same disease that the user has.
A Barrier for Biological and Chemical Threats
Routine tasks and emergency situations expose law enforcers to chemical and biological threats. Think about fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that the CDC says is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Ingesting, inhaling, and skin contact are some of the ways an officer can get exposed to this drug.
With its extreme potency, fentanyl exposure can cause a wide array of health symptoms. The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount exposed to. However, confusion, drowsiness, weakness, and nausea are common.
In more severe cases, it can lead to slowed breathing and heart rate or even unconsciousness. In a worst-case scenario, life-threatening respiratory problems can develop.
This is why law enforcement PPE requirements should include safety gloves and masks. Especially for drug raids and even for routine body searches.
Shielding Against Explosions
Bullets aren’t the only reason law enforcers need body armor — explosions are as a big a threat to them. In 2018 alone, the Bomb Arson Tracking System reported 17,968 explosives-related incidents. Of these incidents, 706 were actual explosions, 289 of which were bombings.
To protect responders from such dangers, they need to don blast-protective PPE. These include Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) gear, especially bomb suits. These body armors can withstand the pressure that bombs and their fragments generate.
The main difference between bomb suits and ballistic suits is what they cover. Bomb suits provide protection for the entire body, from head to toe. Whereas bullet-proof suits focus on the head and torso.
Increasing PPE Effectiveness through Decontamination
Decontamination is a crucial part of a successful PPE program. After all, hazardous substances can stick to and permeate protective clothing and gear. Failure to remove these hazards increases the risk of them contaminating clean areas.
For PPE to remain effective, users need to remove contaminants that have built up on them. Eliminating biological and chemical agents allows their PPE to keep protecting them.
Normal soaps can’t be an alternative to specialized PPE cleaning and decontaminating agents. That’s because full-spectrum decontaminating products also get rid of toxic heavy metals. For more info on what toxins these PPE cleaning solutions can remove, visit this homepage.
Personal Protective Equipment Protects Our Servers and Protectors
There you have it, your ultimate guide on why donning PPE is a must for all law enforcers. Without PPE, there isn’t much that can protect those who swore to serve and protect the people. The bottom line is, PPE helps keep our officers safe from the hazards their jobs always expose them to.
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