Thousands of substandard gas masks that Indiana bought after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will be provided to workers who face lesser risks in emergencies than first responders, reports the Associated Press. Local officials question why the state used $650,000 in federal money to buy 16,000 masks that are considered inadequate for first-line protection in a chemical or bioterrorism attack.
The state bought the cheaper masks at a bulk rate of $41 apiece. Top-of-the-line models for first responders are expected to cost hundreds of dollars each. They will be purchased with a $2.9 million federal grant.
Allen County, which includes Fort Wayne, received about 700 of the cheaper masks during the post-Sept. 11 rush. “Back in 2002, it was, ‘Get the masks out there, we’ll do the planning later,”‘ said Bernie Beier, Fort Wayne homeland security director. “Now, it’s time to adjust.”