Officers overcome by fumes at drug lab


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AZTOY
January 13, 2003, 09:13 PM
Officers overcome by fumes at drug lab
Brent Whiting
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 13, 2003 03:40 PM

Two police officers answering a call Monday at a home in north Phoenix stumbled onto a methamphetamine lab and were overcome by chemical fumes, authorities said.


One of the officers passed out; the other went into "severe respiratory distress," said Phoenix police spokesman Detective Tony Morales.

The unidentified officers were taken to John C. Lincoln Hospital-North Mountain, where they were reported in good condition, Morales said.

A third officer was treated for an injury, possibly a broken arm, that he suffered while chasing a suspect who fled out of the back of the home.

The incident occurred about noon at a house in the 1800 block of West Wood Drive, southeast of Thunderbird and 19th avenues, Morales said.

Officers went to the home on an unrelated matter and detected chemical smells coming from inside when a woman answered the door, he said.

Later, as the officers were securing the residence, they were overcome by the fumes.

"Fortunately, paramedics were already on the scene and were able to tend to them and help get them to the hospital," Morales said.

Six people at the home, four men and two women, are being investigated in connection with the drug lab, police said.

One of the six, the one who reportedly fled out of the rear of the house, was caught in a wash south of the residence.

Authorities were expected to remain at the house for several hours dismantling the lab and securing evidence.http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0113methlab-ON.html

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pax
January 13, 2003, 11:25 PM
Disclaimer: This is not a criticism of the LEOs on the scene, but a question. Please treat it as such.

I'm a little puzzled, reading this article. There were six people already in the home. Presumably those people had been there for some time if they were cooking a batch of meth.

Why did the officers get overcome by the fumes, and not the inhabitants?

Was it an adrenaline/hysteria reaction on the part of the officers? Were the people all wearing gas masks? Had the inhabitants built up their tolerance for the crud (rather than burning their lungs out)? Or what?

pax

444
January 13, 2003, 11:38 PM
This is very common. When I worked Haz Mat, we responded on drug lab raids with SWAT/Narcotics. Often times the occupants are wearing respirators, supplied breathing air, gas masks, or they might have a very good air handling system; often filtered so the smell doesn't give them away.
The cops may have handled the chemicals also.
In most any city, there are hundreds of drug labs in operation as we speak. Where I work, there is more than one drug lab bust per day.

TheeBadOne
January 14, 2003, 12:08 AM
Drug labs are nasty! They may have walked into a part that was storage for the waste and gotten sick there. Lots of bad bad stuff at a meth lab.

444
January 14, 2003, 12:44 AM
I left out the main point of my post. The reason we responded with the police on these drug lab calls was to provide haz-mat decontamination in the event an officer was exposed. We never entered the building.

pax
January 14, 2003, 01:02 AM
Got it, thanks.

That brings up another series of questions, though.

If officers could "reasonably and foreseeably" expect to be exposed to meth lab contamination in the course of their regular duties (one a day, 444?) -- why don't they have ventilators issued along with their sidearms?

Or do they?

(I spent my day wading through the WA Administrative Codes looking for info on what my employer is expected to provide in the way of safety equipment for her employees. Answer: a helluva lotta overkill and enough paperwork to reverse-engineer a redwood tree. "Reasonably foreseeable" covers a lot of ground to the paper pushers.)

pax

444
January 14, 2003, 01:33 AM
Pax, the guys that do this everyday have all the nessessary safety gear. If a regular patrol unit stumbled onto something like this out of the blue, he wouldn't have the gear. Also, these guys only wear sidearms as decorations. They are carrying HK MP5s and shotguns.

By the way, I said at least, one a day. Around 400/year last I heard.

tex_n_cal
January 14, 2003, 02:02 AM
Seems as though much of this hazard could be eliminated by just firing a flare through a window, while they are cooking the stuff. The officers will need hard hats, though, if the debris from the explosion rains down on their heads:D

I know, I know, the dirtbags often have young kids with them, you can't just blow up their house:fire:

The stupidity of meth makers is astounding. One guy was busted a few years ago in the area. Seems he made a nice haul from his meth lab, and wanted a new house. He tried to buy one with $100,000 in cash. The Realtor called the police.

Blackhawk
January 14, 2003, 02:07 AM
Seems as though much of this hazard could be eliminated by just firing a flare through a window, while they are cooking the stuff. The officers will need hard hats, though, if the debris from the explosion rains down on their heads Or a slingshot and an M-80. Works for me! :rolleyes:

Cal4D4
January 14, 2003, 11:05 AM
These guys just haven't built up a tolerance yet. It is not unusual to have kids running around in this environment even though the drapes are rotting off the windows from the fumes. :mad:

4v50 Gary
January 14, 2003, 11:10 AM
Can't throw a flare into a lab. One of the reasons why suppressed firearms are used is that the flash from a normal gun can result in the lab and its occupants becoming a fireball. As Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 use to say, "Sorry about that Chief."

El Tejon
January 14, 2003, 12:21 PM
Did anyone else see those poor Oklahoma coppers who used to handle the stuff without protection when meth first started? Multiple health problems.

The alleged users always stink. Some sort of interaction with the liver/digestion. Comes out of their pores. Very distinct odor.

CatsDieNow
January 14, 2003, 01:13 PM
The stupidity of meth makers is astounding.

Back when I lived in Indiana, the meth makers would try to steal the anhydrous tanks on trailers from farmer's fields. It got so bad that the local gov't would offer free locks.

Several years ago, one of these knuckleheads wanted to steal some, decided to get underneath the tank with his cordless drill, and makes a small hole to drain it out. :confused:

Anhydrous ammonia boils at -28°F. It must be kept under pressure to be stored as a liquid above this temperature and at 60°F, the pressure is 93 psi.

Mr. popsicle was frozen instantly. :rolleyes:

Sven
January 14, 2003, 04:17 PM
Theory: Perhaps the garage chemists had realized cops were entering and began pouring solvents into a tub or down a drain... this would surely raise the level of fumes.

Just a theory.

blades67
January 14, 2003, 04:28 PM
I was told the officers opened a bedroom door where the chemicals were being kept and were overcome.

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