The Washington State Hospital Association, using grant monies provided by the state of Washington's Department of Health, has purchased 630 HazAmps from Cleveland-based vendor Ultra Electronics Audiopack.

The HazAmps consist of a belt- or chest-mounted voice amplifier that uses a throat microphone to sense the user's voice. The device is designed for use by first responders and victims underneath air-purifying hoods while in contaminated environments stemming from a nuclear, biological or chemical event. The HazAmp's lightweight design and neck-worn microphone won't compromise the protective attributes of hoods or masks, the company said.