YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

CHP: How to handle mail safely

October 23, 2001|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

The most popular show in town Monday was a lecture presentation put on by the California Highway Patrol.

Shortly before 1 p.m., nearly 100 state, county and local government employees filed into the IID Auditorium on Broadway in El Centro.

They were there to listen to Highway Patrol Sgt. Ralph Fernandez and Officer Frank Fernandez instruct them in the safe handling of mail during the ongoing series of anthrax scares across the nation.

An earlier session at 10 a.m. had drawn a similar number of participants.

Ralph Fernandez emphasized the possibility of anthrax infected mail being sent to people in Imperial Valley is remote.

Aided by a computerized presentation, he detailed the correct way to handle suspicious mail.

"If you choose to wear disposable latex gloves, then that's fine," he said. "But as far as wearing a mask while you're sorting the mail….we're not recommending it."


But for those who would feel better wearing a mask, Fernandez suggested people simply go to a local hardware store and buy a painter's mask.

"There's no need to look like something from "The Black Lagoon" by wearing one of those huge gas masks" he added with a smile.

The seminars were organized as part of the response to a directive from Gov. Gray Davis' office for the Highway Patrol to be the lead agency in helping state employees deal with the current scare.

At the end of the session, Frank Fernandez reminded the audience of the presentation's theme: "Be Prepared, Not Scared."

The Highway Patrol has a Web site featuring a training video on the safe handling of incoming mail. The Web site address is

Another Web site containing information on anthrax is the one operated by the Center for Disease Control at

Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles