Magazine article National Defense

Secret Service Hopes Use of New Escape Mask Proliferates

Magazine article National Defense

Secret Service Hopes Use of New Escape Mask Proliferates

Article excerpt

The U.S. Secret Service is developing a pocket-sized escape hood designed to protect agents and the president from chemical and biological attacks.

Agents have a good deal of equipment in their vehicles and pre-positioned in rooms where the president and others they are protecting visit. However, there was concern about how to provide protection from chemical or biological attack during those fleeting moments between the motorcade and the building, said Tony Chapa, deputy assistant director of the service's office of protective research.

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Agents on security detail only wear suits, and carry a weapon and radio. They don't have room to carry a traditional gas mask under the suit, he said at the conference.

The Secret Service's technical security division sent out a broad agency announcement through the Department of Homeland Security's science and technology directorate seeking ideas from vendors for an escape hood "they could conceal in their suit, and pull out and provide them the opportunity to go from [a contaminated area] back to a secure area,"

Unlike traditional gas masks, escape hoods are intended for short-term use--about 10 to 15 minutes. …

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