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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Akron Decontamination Team Keeps First Responders Safe, Allows Police Recruit Training to Continue

akron police training class
A newly formed decontamination team will disinfect vehicles and buildings including the training room where the Akron Police Department is training the city's first class of cadets since 2008.

The city of Akron has called eight furloughed employees back to work to create a decontamination team to help protect first responders.

The team’s job is to wipe out any remnants of the coronavirusthat might linger in emergency vehicles, cruisers or buildings first responders use. The men work 24 hours in three shifts, wearing the appropriate safety gear to apply the fog-like aerosol. It kills a broad spectrum of viruses, germs and bacteria.

The city researched decontamination methods hospitals and safety forces in other cities are using to determine what method to deploy, said Akron Fire Department Lieutenant Rob Keener.

The decontaminant chosen has an alcohol base so although it’s safe for the workers, Keener says it’s deadly for the virus.

“It covers the whole spectrum of viruses and bacteria, and we said that’s perfect, that’s what we want,” Keener said.

Once a room or a vehicle is fogged, Keener says it can be reused in about 10 minutes.

“The fact that it’s an aerosolized solution, it gets in all the nooks and crannies and places you can’t wipe down with disinfectant wipes,” he said.

The decontamination process is making it possible to continue training 45 police recruits who are now going through Akron’s first police academy since 2008.

“That’s a strict time frame and agenda they have to follow, and they can’t miss time, so we can’t really afford for them to be off sick or exposed to COVID," Keener said.

Disrupting the class at this point could result in the cadets having to start the training over from the beginning, he said.

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.