Search and rescue crews say "shake and bake" meth their #1 threat

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The people we depend on to find lost children and trapped natural disaster victims say "Shake and Bake" meth labs are the number one hazard they face on the job. Gulf Coast Search and Rescue put on several training exercises in Harrison County for dozens of volunteers. Organizers say these days when they go out on a search, they have to be careful that not to become victims themselves.

The mission was to find as many tornado victims as possible, render first aid, then take the injured to safety.

"If we have a weak link in the chain, the chain cannot operate," said volunteerDon Lee, Jr. "Without that team effort, nobody can survive a disaster. "

The rescuers also went over drills for terrorism, crime scene and missing person searches. The volunteers include the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT. CERT is made up of every day people trained to help their neighbors after a disaster until professional help can arrive.

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said, "We learned after Katrina that we can become incapacitated pretty quickly. The more people we get trained into the basics, the better prepared we are for any type of hazard, be it if it's some type of chemical release, a tornado, if it's a hurricane. "

Rescuers say now days while searching for victims, they have to worry about coming across booby trapped marijuana fields and discarded Shake and Bake meth labs.

"Right now people who do that are just driving around doing it. They just throw the two-litter bottles that they're using out on the side of the road, or they throw them in the woods," said Sheri Bowling of Gulf Coast Search and Rescue. "If you open them after they've been sealed, they'll explode. The dogs can go and pick it up, play with it or bite into it."

So rescuers learned how to spot the possible dangers.

Bowling said, "We have to go safety first. If we go down then we can't help anybody else. We have to make sure that we can go in and do our job. And come out to go back and get some more people."

Harrison County Sheriff's Department, Harrison County Fire Service and Virginia College criminal justice students also took part in the drills.

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