Anti-Spit Masks have established themselves as another great product that will effectively help us protect correctional officers, law enforcement officers, paramedics and military personnel from Hepatitis C and other infectious diseases.
Unions representing the interest of the above professionals in countries around the world have for some time raised serious concerns about the increasing number of spitting incidents, as it has well known serious potential health risks. It is not just the officer that is affected but also their family, as tests and treatment for suspected contagious disease can last for several months.
I am extremely confident that Anti-Spit Masks can make the difference between staying safe or suffering from a potentially long lasting and severe illness. When confronted by a hostile or intoxicated member of the public, a combatant, prisoner or disturbed hospital patient, the risk of being spat on is realistic and protection from such threat is sensible.
This type of protective device is extremely compact, easy to deploy, safe, disposable and individually packed, and already used by agencies and organizations around the world. It is to be slipped over the head of a combatant, prisoner or seriously intoxicated or aggressive member of the public following his or her arrest, in case this person remains hostile and threatening.
Police in New Zealand have reported difficulties in restraining drunk and drugged people and preventing them from hurting themselves, according to NZ police magazine Ten-One. A two-year safety review of 8000 cases found nearly 10 per cent of offenders had spat at officers, who had limited tools to deal with it.
I am of course fully aware that the use of anti-spit masks has been questioned by some people (eg human right campaigners) in the past, raising concerns in terms of the risk of suffocation, especially when such anti-spit mask is forced over the head of someone suffering from breathing difficulties.
Human rights activist also raised their voices claiming it could send wrong signals or even raising concerns of the 'look'. Some human activists with rather strong opinions even compare the use of anti-spit masks with the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, questioning if such a device should be used on someone because he or she is just very drunk.
Well, I do believe we really need to focus on the personal safety and protection of those who serve, care and protect, rather than worrying what human rights activists may consider as appropriate or not. Should the safety of frontline professionals not be in the interest of all of us?
Of course, I do fully understand that Anti-Spit Masks will always remain to be controversial, but no one can fault those firms for have a genuine desire to want to reduce operational risks, workplace violence related injuries and even death.
Hundreds of detention centers, correctional institutions and police stations in North America and several European countries are already successfully using such devices, because they have seen the sense in it a long time ago, and more and more countries will follow suit, there is no question about it.
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Robert A Kaiser