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From left, Hernando Police Assistant Police Chief Shane Ellis, aldermen Doc Harris and Michael McLendon, Mayor Tom Ferguson, Police Chief Scott Worsham, alderman Andrew Miller, Capt. Kyle Hodge, Sgt. John Cotter, and Rodney Tower of Aftermath Services. The Hernando department received $1,000 and 43 personal protective equipment kits as part of Aftermath’s Safety and Training Contest.

Hernando police officers will soon have available equipment that will help them be better protected from dangerous substances when they make traffic stops or have contact with possible suspects.

A company called Aftermath Services LLC held a Safety and Training Contest and the Hernando department was among the national winners of $1,000 to be used toward safety training, along with 43 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits for use on patrol.

“Personal Protective Equipment is something we very much need here at the department because we did not have any,” said Police Chief Scott Worsham. “It was fun to enter the contest and do the video so we’re really excited about it and looking forward to getting this equipment out there.”

The video sent in to Aftermath for submission showed scenes of Hernando with Worsham explaining why the department needed the kits. It also related an instance where an officer was adversely affected when encountering a substance during a traffic stop.

The officer suffered some headaches and recovered, but would have been protected from the substance if he had the PPE available for use.

“PPE will protect them from hazmat toxicity situations, fentanyl and things of that nature,” Worsham explained. “If we know that the material exists, the officers can easily go to their patrol car, put this equipment on and it will protect them from exposure.”

Aftermath Services LLC is considered the nation’s largest dedicated crime scene cleanup company. The Aurora, Illinois-based firm created the annual Safety And Training Contest to help offset the cost of training programs that benefit officers and communities.

Law enforcement agencies across the country submitted applications, including essays and videos, explaining why they deserve to win funding and kits for programs associated with keeping first responders and communities safe.

The kits include gloves, gowns, shoe covers, head covers, masks, respirators, eye protection, face shields, and goggles. Industry concerns also use PPE kits to protect employees from exposure in biohazard situations.

Worsham said his department does encounter situations from time-to-time where the kits will come into use.

“Fortunately, not every day, but we certainly have them come up,” Worsham noted. “We’ve already had one documented case where an officer was exposed and we’re very thankful that he is OK. Had we had this equipment when we had that unknown substance, he would have been able to avoid exposure.”

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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