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Emergency workers to learn dangers of meth

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP - Almost unheard of in this area 10 years ago, methamphetamine - commonly known as meth - is quickly becoming the drug of choice among the poor, primarily because it is so easy to make and its ingredients are so easy to get.

In response to the growing meth lab problem, the Elizabeth Township Volunteer Fire Department will sponsor a meth lab class for area emergency responders April 24. The class will be taught by instructors from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

"The class is for firefighters, law enforcement officers, health department personnel and EMS personnel," Elizabeth Township Fire Chief Dale Waugh said. "This gives them awareness of what to look for, and how to handle these situations. Meth is very dangerous as well as being highly addictive."

While meth has not been as common in Lawrence County as it is in other communities, such as Kanawha County, W.Va., or Scioto County,

emergency responders here do not have a false sense of security that they will never have to deal with the meth lab problem, and are choosing instead to be prepared.

"We've been working on this (developing the class) for about six or eight months," Waugh said. "We see it all around us. We see that they are cracking down on this in West Virginia and

its in other parts of Ohio. We realize that when other places crack down on meth labs, those people who are making meth are likely to search for somewhere else they can go."

How dangerous is a meth lab? Very dangerous, according to Ironton Police Chief Bill Garland.

"The chemicals that go into making meth are dangerous not only in that they are potentially explosive, but the odors associated with making meth can be lethal," Garland said. "It's a major problem right now. With the economy the way it is, no one has money for other drugs so they're getting high by cooking their own."

The class is free but space in limited. Those interested should register by April 8, but Waugh said walk ins will be welcome. Those who want to register may call Waugh at 532-5075 or Mike Boster at 533-4375.