Published:  01:02 AM, 26 June 2020

Traffic police in quandary over PPE

Traffic police in quandary over PPE A traffic policeman performs his duty wearing a protective gear amid severe heat recently. -AA

The addition of personal protective equipment on top of heavy uniforms has caused much suffering to traffic police personnel with many falling ill in the sweltering heat amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Senior officials have been informed about the risk of heatstroke facing traffic policemen if they put on the full protective gear, according to sergeants 'Shafiullah' and 'Azmeri' who were on duty at Dhaka's Bijoy Sarani intersection, reports bdnews24.com.

The officers received 10-12 masks, hand sanitizers, hand gloves and one PPE each. The equipment is being reused every day for 8-10 hours, Shafiullah said.

PPEs are uncomfortable to wear over a long stretch of time, according to traffic constables.There had been a shortage of protective gear at the start of the virus outbreak, jackets, face shields, masks and gloves are now available for use by frontline workers. Some officers wear the same mask for about 10 hours and only take it off while eating and praying.

Traffic policemen working in different areas across the capital, including Asad Gate, Farmgate, Bangla Motor and Kakrail, also expressed their displeasure with wearing PPEs on Tuesday.

 "One could work for two days without washing his uniform. Trousers could at least be worn for 2-3 days. Now you have to wash clothes every day. The cost has gone up," said Traffic Constable Mohammad Ali Jinnah at Bijoy Sarani intersection.  "

PPE cannot be worn for too long under the sun. I start to sweat profusely," said Md Halim, an officer who was seen marshalling the traffic at Farmgate without wearing PPE. Constable Gaziur Rahman was wearing PPE at Bangla Motor but his jacket was unzipped. He was given only one PPE which he has been reusing ever since.

Most of the thousands of policemen infected with the coronavirus are constables and among them, most are traffic constables. Many of them have recovered and returned to work.

Mahmudul Hasan, who underwent treatment for 22 days at Rajarbagh Central Police Hospital, returned to work a week ago. Mahmudul, who was on duty at Kakrail, was not wearing gloves or a protective jacket although he had a mask and a face shield on.

Physicians have insisted on keeping safety equipment clean to limit the risk of infection. Ordinary masks should not be used for more than 5-6 hours, said Abu Raihan, deputy director of a 250-bed hospital in Shyamoli.

Additional Police Commissioner (Traffic) Abdur Razzak told bdnews24.com that there was no shortage of protective equipment and maximum emphasis was being laid on the matter to ensure the safety of policemen. "Officers wearing PPEs can fall ill due to hot weather. The doctors have also agreed," he said.

There is no need for traffic policemen to wear jackets, said IEDCR adviser Dr Mushtuq Hosain, adding that wearing masks would suffice. "There needs to be hand-washing facilities in places of work."However, PPEs must be worn while performing arrests, according to the expert.



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