The use of gas masks have evolved from strategic deployment among special tactical units, to standard equipment for front-line officers when managing crowd control situations. In today’s sudden violent protest culture, it’s difficult to imagine a time when rank-and-file officers were not fully equipped with riot gear and gas masks.
How Does A Gas Mask Function?
In terms of civil unrest situations, gas masks provide protection from airborne agents. It’s not uncommon for aggressive protestors to throw bottles filled with chemicals, target civilians and officers with pepper sprays, or hurl tear gas canisters at crowd control units. Anytime an officer wades into a violent street gathering, their health and safety are at risk.
Fundamentally, gas masks are the tactical equivalent of the common respirator. They purify breathable air by filtering out hazardous chemical and biological agents that could incapacitate peace officers. A deftly designed gas mask works as a self-contained breathing apparatus that is virtually impenetrable to dangers present in most crowd control scenarios. The wearer usually has full use of their eyes, nose, and mouth, and can react to emerging risks unimpeded by airborne agents.
How Effective Are Gas Masks?
The effectiveness of a gas mask is determined by how secure it tailors to the contours of a user’s face and the strength of the filter. Having a product that seamlessly fits into rapid response tactical gear can mean the difference between optimal safety and chemical agent penetrations. And just as not all riot suits and accessories are created equal, neither are the disposable filters.
A quality gas mask filter should last upwards of 24 hours. That’s essential for exposed officers because a declining filter can make it difficult to breathe in a critical situation. The greater the time flexibility in changing a filter, the less likely it will need to happen under strenuous circumstances. Changing filters is a task best conducted after order is restored, and officers are out of harm’s way. Quality air filters matter. Although the function of gas masks seems to protect only the wearer at first blush, this vital piece of safety equipment has been responsible for saving bystanders and protestors alike.
How Do Gas Masks Save Lives?
In order to understand how such protective wear aids both front-lines officers and civilians, it’s important to consider some of the most chaotic situations.
Today’s patrol officers often wear partial riot protection and carry accessories such as gas masks in their vehicles. When they arrive at the scene of a raucous or violent gathering, tactical units may need to utilize CS gas or OC spray to disperse agitators. These each have their own function in dispersing a crowd control situation. CS (chlorobenzalmalononitrile) gas causes discomfort, choking, and can make it difficult to breathe for anyone in close proximity. OC (oleoresin capsicum) is a natural pepper spray and is usually reserved for violent and harmful crowd control situations.
Law enforcement prefers not to rely on airborne agents whenever possible because of their sometimes harsh impact on people with breathing impediments such as asthma and COPD. This equally applies to those engaged in the unrest as well as passing nearby. Officers are tasked with protecting and serving everyone, even those who allow emotions to get the better of them.
Protecting Those Protecting Us
Without this protective riot gear wear, an officer would be similarly impacted and rendered physically unable to save someone's life. At the end of the day, protective gear and accessories, such as gas masks, are vital life-saving tools for law enforcement and civilians alike. That’s why Haven Gear supplies state-of-the-art protective equipment that can be used in conjunction with gas masks to be effectively used to save the lives of all our valued community members.
While tremendous efforts and advancements have been made in the development of crowd control technologies, many of the same designers that were used back then are still used today. However, Haven Gear is pushing the envelope in protecting our law enforcement with next-generation riot suits and gear. We work with multiple departments to customize riot suits and kits, so your team’s needs are met, no matter what size your department is. Reach out to us today to learn how we can suit your department up for success and safety.