Ironton schools get vape detectors

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 26, 2022

Devices also sense loud noises

With the start of the new school year, one of newest pieces of equipment at Ironton Elementary and Middle schools is one designed to prevent students from vaping at school.

The multi-sensor devices, called HALO Smart Detectors, are described by the company as “capable of vape detection, smoke detection, THC detection, and sound abnormalities like gunshots and shouting in areas a camera cannot be placed.”

Debbie Fisher, public information officer for the Lawrence County Health Department talks to Ironton school nurse Heather Lambert about all the features of the HALO Smart Detector on Monday as Angela Bostick-Doyle, the director of nursing at the Lawrence County Health Department, looks on. (The Ironton Tribune | Mark Shaffer)

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Angela Bostick-Doyle, the director of nursing at the Lawrence County Health Department, said that the reason that one of the first schools to get the detectors was a middle school was on purpose — to prevent vaping and nicotine addiction.

One of the HALO Smart Detectors presented to Ironton Elementary and Middle schools by the Lawrence County Health Department on Monday. The health department plans to get them in all the schools in the county. (The Ironton Tribune | Mark Shaffer)

“We chose the Ironton Elementary and Middle school to be the first because statistics show that middle school is when vaping starts first,” she said. “We want to make sure we are targeting that group first, so maybe we are able to stop it before it increases in the years as they get older.”

And vaping inside schools and all public places is banned by the state’s Smoke Free Workplace law.

Bostick-Doyle said the health department is planning on putting vape detectors in all nine school systems in Lawrence County.

The health department began working with 268 Ironton school students last year on vaping and nicotine use prevention with a program called Catch My Breath.

“We come and teach the students and we partner with Lawrence County EMS,” she said. “They come in and set up an actual ventilator so the students can see how that works if they ever get to the point where they would need one. They also bring in a pig lung that students are able to look at. It is eye opening for the students.”
Ironton school nurse Heather Lambert said the school wanted the vaping detectors because “we are interested in helping our students with prevention and we want to educate them if they have any questions and provide any help necessary.”

Ironton Middle School principal Toben Schreck said they were very thrilled to get the detectors.

“Vaping was a major problem for us last year. And for some reason, there was a very big increase from years past. I don’t really have a good reason as to why,” he said. “But hopefully, by putting these in our restrooms, it can hopefully make a difference.”

Once installed, the detectors can notify a school official by email that vaping or smoking has been detected.

And the units are designed to be sensitive, and many of the tricks that students have used, like vaping over a toilet and then flushing it to draw the vape out of the air, won’t work.

The vape detectors are funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Health.