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CHP takes lead in

October 19, 2001


By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Gov. Gray Davis has directed the California Highway Patrol to be the lead agency in instructing state employees and others in how to deal with suspicious mail.

The local Highway Patrol office will conduct two seminars Monday for state workers and the general public on how to handle mail thought to contain the anthrax bacteria.

Both seminars will be in the Imperial Irrigation District auditorium at 1285 Broadway in El Centro. They will be at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.


Highway Patrol Sgt. Ralph Fernandez, Officer Frank Fernandez, and in Winterhaven, Officer Robert Sapp, have been selected to lead the education effort.

Ralph Fernandez said Thursday: "The governor has instructed the California Highway Patrol to provide safety and security for all state personnel."

The governor's action came in the wake of growing fear the next terrorist attack against the United States will be biological warfare.

There have been a number of cases of people throughout the country being exposed to anthrax from mail.

There also has been a growing number of false alarms, including cases in the Imperial Valley.

Fernandez said people should not panic.

"If you take proper precautions, the likelihood of exposure is minimal," Fernandez said.

He added of anthrax, "It is a possible threat but it is more of a scare."

Fernandez said if people give in to their fear, the terrorists have won. He said people need to be calm and if so the country "can be victorious against terrorism."

Fernandez said if people do receive mail or a package they think is suspicious, they should think of SIN — safety, isolation and notification.

He said people should screen all incoming mail and treat mail that is suspicious carefully. He said if necessary people should isolate mail and notify authorities if there is concern it contains anthrax.

He said people need to remember while anthrax can be dangerous, it is not as serious as people may think, it is preventable and curable.

In light of the anthrax scare, the Highway Patrol has a Web page available to the public that includes a training video on dealing with mail. The Web site is

Fernandez recommended if people have concerns they also check out the Center for Disease Control Web site at

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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