CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - A special unit of Charlotte County Fire & EMS was first on the scene of a suspicious powder scare Monday at the Charlotte County courthouse.
The Charlotte Fire Special Operations team is often among the first to face almost any threat.
"Its become a lot more than just fighting fires and running EMS calls," said Lt. Mike Seneca.
A sheriff's office spokesperson says the substance appears to have been pills mailed from an inmate who was upset with the medication he was assigned to take. But while Monday's situation was considered ruled a low-level threat, every incident is taken seriously.
"Any call that we get to go out on and actually practice what we've been trained to do is a good call for us," Lt. Seneca said.
Everyone on the team is trained in multiple specialties, like clamping leaks, handling hazardous materials, and making dangerous rescues; all using more than just the standard set of firefighting equipment.
"From radiation detectors to air monitors to remote monitoring detectors," Lt. Seneca said. "(One device) uses infrared rays to actually shoot into the particles itself and it can actually help us determine what a substance is. It's not just fire and EMS, its chemistry here.."
The team is called the "Black Sheep," but in an age when terror could come from anywhere, having local teams ready to respond is key.
"These guys are ready in just about any situation," said Dee Hawkins with Charlotte Fire & EMS.
"It would take anywhere from two to six hours for another agency to actually come in here and do the job we did here today," Lt. Seneca said. "It's those first responders that are actually your first line of defense."