Meth labs are the kind of thing that hide in plain sight. They're made up of items you can buy at most local stores. That's why Vermont State Police hope that educating local police, fire, and rescue crews on what to look out for will keep them safe, and crack down on the growing crime.
150 first responders were educated Tuesday night at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg.
"This is not to have them venture in, to touch anything, to move anything," explained Vermont State Police Lieutenant Reg Trayah. He is also the Commander of the Vermont Clandestine Lab Task Force. "All this is to teach them something doesn't look right, let me make a phone call and see if I can get some help."
Spotting a meth lab isn't as easy as it used to be. Nowadays it can look like household trash and can be made in a soda bottle with common ingredients like pseudoephedrine, liquid drain cleaner, even ice packs. It's easy to make, tough to spot, and very dangerous to be around.
"You're dealing with chemicals that are unmarked at times, explosive environment, people who are high, paranoid, that is a recipe for disaster," Trayah explained.
In Hinesburg an explosion last fall injured a teenager's face. It didn't immediately look like a meth lab so first responders went in.
"It started us thinking that we need to be aware of what to look at and what to look for," said Hinesburg Fire Department EMS Captain Eric Spivack on why he and his department were in attendance Tuesday night.
Coming into contact with a meth lab can be deadly. That's why when the Vermont State Police Clandestine Lab team responds to a call they bring a hazmat team, a bomb squad, and a team of chemists -- and take every precaution.
"Our ultimate job is to let everybody who shows up to that scene go home," Trayah said. He hopes the lesson will keep first responders safe, and may help crack down on people cooking up the dangerous drug.
"I want people to realize that it is not safe to cook meth in the state of Vermont because we have so many people out there watching them seeing them reporting them. And that's our goal," Trayah explained.
Trayah says meth is growing more popular because it's much cheaper than cocaine and gives users a higher high. He says that, plus the increase in surveillance and crack down on labs by the Vermont Drug Task Force is leading to the high number of meth busts in Vermont -- which is about one every eight weeks.
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