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Friday, May 11, 2012

Driver pulled over -- for being radioactive

Radioactive man? Milford resident pulled over by state police

Amanda Cuda

Mike Apatow, of Milford, poses at Stratford Fire Station, Company 2, in Stratford, Conn. May 10th, 2012, where he works as firefighter. Apatow, who had a radioactive stress test Wednesday, was pulled over later in the day, in Newtown, by a state police trooper after a radioactivity detector in the trooper's car was set off when Apatow passed. The detectors are used to help identify potential terror threats. Apatow was not on duty at the time.

A Connecticut State Police trooper shows a radioactivity detector which is used to help identify potential terror threats. Mike Apatow of Milford was entering Interstate 84 in Newtown when he was pulled over by a trooper who said Alpow flagged as a radioactive car. Thankfully, Apatow’s doctor had given him a piece of paper documenting that he had a medical procedure involving a small amount of radioactive material. Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed

A Connecticut State Police trooper shows a radioactivity detector...

A Connecticut State Police trooper shows a radioactivity detector which is used to help identify potential terror threats. Mike Apatow of Milford was entering Interstate 84 in Newtown when he was pulled over by a trooper  who said Alpow flagged as a radioactive car. Thankfully, ApatowâÄôs doctor had given him a piece of paper documenting that heâÄôd had a medical procedure involving a small amount of radioactive material. Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed

Mike Apatow was minding his own business Wednesday, driving to an appointment for work in Washington Depot when a state police car appeared suddenly and signaled for the Milford resident to pull over.

Apatow, 42, was entering Interstate 84 in Newtown when the cruiser appeared, and he had no idea what he'd done to merit police attention. It turns out he didn't do anything.

But earlier that day, Apatow, who'd experienced a recent spike in his blood pressure, had a nuclear stress test at Cardiology Associates of Fairfield County in Trumbull. In the test, a small amount of a radioactive material is injected into the veins and used to help track blood flow to the heart.

Though the amount of radioactive material used in the test is relatively low -- equal to a few X-rays or a diagnostic CT scan -- it was enough to set off a radioactivity detector in the state police car. The detectors are used to help identify potential terror threats.

"I asked the officer `What seems to be the problem?' " Apatow said. "He said `You've been flagged as a radioactive car.' "

Apatow's doctor had given him a document attesting that he'd had a medical procedure involving a small amount of radioactive material that he handed to the officer. A Stratford firefighter, Apatow was more curious than annoyed by the incident.

"I had no idea the police even had devices like that," he said. "I imagined it being like a cartoon -- like I'm driving down the street and my car was glowing."

State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance confirmed that many of the state police cars have the radioactivity detectors. "It's part of our homeland security operations here," Vance said. "It's just another layer of public safety that we have in this state."

Though the goal of the detectors is to alert police to motorists who might be carrying hazardous materials, cases like Apatow's happen from time to time.

"They're very sensitive," Vance said of the detectors.

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