Media were invited to RCMP K Division headquarters Thursday for a first-person glimpse at a clandestine narcotics setup.

“We have two obligations at drug labs as police responders,” said Sgt. Hope, who concealed her full name to protect her identity. “First, to protect the public and dismantle the lab in a safe fashion, but also to protect ourselves and collect evidence.”

After 20 minutes of suiting up with chemical-resistant uniforms and a handgun, volunteers were taken through a simulated clandestine drug lab where they gathered evidence in an effort to understand measures taken by police during the dangerous procedure.

In 2002, police responded to 13 drug labs in the province, the majority of which were producing meth. Police say similar activity has slowed considerably since the massive crackdown.

“With the combined efforts that have occurred since 2000 and all the awareness that we’ve done, we’ve had one response in 2009, zero in 2008,” said Sgt. Lorne Adamitz. “So those efforts that have happened have improved the situation.”

Though officers are fully protected when raiding a homemade lab, their main concern is people who are forced to live with the toxic chemicals.

“We are seeing situations where family members, in particular children, are also exposed to these hazards,” RCMP Cpl. Wayne Oakes said.

“We know from long-term research that this has a very negative impact on the health, well-being, and social, physical and psychological development of our children, and that’s why these efforts are so important.”