Mahoning County Hazmat has new tool to detect chemicals, drugs and liquids
Mahoning County's Hazmat Team has a new tool to help them respond to and identify potential public threats in a much more efficient way.
It's courtesy of a grant from Homeland Security.
Stephen Szekely of the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department is the Chief of Mahoning County's Hazmat's Team.
"What it does is, it shoots a specific laser light into the product and vibrates the molecules. That vibration of the light goes back to the meter, and it compares it to a library of known chemicals. So when it compares it, it lets us know exactly what we're dealing with," said Szekely.
Mahoning County's Hazmat Team was able to get a grant through Homeland Security to pay for this Raman Spectroscopy Meter at the cost of $50,000. It has 20,000 different chemicals, including illegal drugs like Fentanyl and explosives it can identify in its library.
"We can either make an evacuation, or maybe we can find out it wasn't what we thought it was, and we don't have to evacuate so with this knowledge to get out to the community and also our first responders," said Szekely.
In the past, hazmat crews would have to use what was known as a hazmat kit to know the classification of unknown solids and liquids. That could take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
Now, all they have to do is use this new meter to know exactly what they're dealing with.
"Here, with this machine, I would literally get a sample I would drop it in here, hit scan, and within three to five minutes, it would tell me exactly what I'm dealing with," Szekely said.
The new meter is already in service and ready to go for the next time Mahoning County's Hazmat Team is called out.