Emergency Crews Respond To More Anthrax Scares - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

"WE'RE RESPONDING TO EVERY CALL".

Emergency Crews Respond To More Anthrax Scares

Reported incidents of "white powdery substances" and suspicious letters continued along the coast Tuesday.

In some cases, hazardous materials experts found themselves leaving one scene and heading for yet another. The increasing awareness about anthrax has prompted a jittery public to take no chances.

Historic Beauvoir found itself confronting this 21st century scare. Biloxi Fire Department crews responded to a report of a "white powdery substance" found on a window ledge.

Emergency crews left Beauvior and headed to Congregation Beth Israel and a report of a suspicious letter.

Gulfport emergency crews spent part of the morning responding to a similar call at the post office on Courthouse Road.

"Certainly public safety is out here. Police and fire are working hand in hand. We're responding to the calls, if something is suspicious. And people all over the United States are on heightened alert," said police chief, Wayne Payne.

Heightened alert prompted a shutdown of the People's Bank in downtown Long Beach on Monday after a clerk spotted a "white powdery substance" on a five dollar bill. The initial discovery raised serious questions.

Chevis Swetman is president of the bank.

"Needing to know what needed to be done. The question is what do you do next? And now that we've been through that, we understand what we have to do and the procedure becomes a lot easier and a lot more understandable. I guess it's the fear of the unknown that most people are worried about."

Anytime emergency crews respond, there is certainly a dollar cost involved. But perhaps the bigger issue with police and firefighters is keeping the public safe When emergency crews are called out on an incident that turns out to be nothing, that response may impact other calls.

Biloxi's fire chief shared that concern as his crews worked Monday's courthouse incident.

"As you can see, we've had several units tied up here that wouldn't have been able to respond to a medical emergency, a small fire, or something like that in the immediate area. There are other units to cover, but it might take a little longer for response time," said chief David Roberts.

By Steve Phillips

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