Post by Jason Plotkin
So I’m photographing a training drill for a mock chemical release. By saying “mock” what I really mean is that I, as part of the media, am allowed to get closer than the multi-block radius than I usually am if this was real.
At some point, members of the York County Hazardous Materials Response Team geared up and played their role in the exercise. In addition to the air masks they wore over their faces, the hazmat guys put these special blue suits on over them which looked like they were ready to walk on the moon.
The photo below gives you an idea how they look:
Now if you notice in the photo, the duo appear to be talking to each other. Now I’m not sure if they have radios inside the suit, but after I took this picture, I asked one of them for their name.
Hit the play button below to hear the audio I recorded while talking to one of them.
Now, as my wife likes to point out, I never listen. But I swear, I could barely hear Tom Bream as he spelled his name for me.
All I kept thinking when I got back to the office is “How in the heck can these guys hear each other?”
I was in front of Bream with no suit on and there was no sirens, yelling or any other type of emergency scene sounds going on. I couldn’t imagine having an oxygen mask and another hazmat suit between us.
Did they know sign language? Could they can read lips? Is my hearing that terrible?
So I called Carl Lindquist, the Director of Communications for York County and he was able to get back to me with an answer. According to Lindquist, members of the team wear throat mics and ear pieces which allow them to communicate in these noisy environments.
Now that I have that answer, maybe I can get me one of those ear pieces so I can understand them better.