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Reducing first responder risk at explosive device incidents

Posted: Aug. 6, 2020

First responders can reduce their risk at explosive device incidents by promoting “See Something, Say Something” and through training.

First responders need to anticipate the unexpected every day. Sometimes that involves extremely dangerous situations posing a threat to not only authorities but to the lives of the general public as well.

In July, a Utah man opened fire on a SWAT team as they arrived to investigate his threatening messages posted on social media. The suspect eventually surrendered and was charged with two counts of attempted criminal homicide and three counts of use of a weapon of mass destruction. He possessed weapons despite being legally barred from having them.

Investigators found explosive chemicals in the house. Some were detonated outside, but the material in the basement couldn’t be safely removed. Bomb experts exploded it in place, destroying the home. Over 168 homes and business were evacuated prior to detonation.

Two important lessons for first responders

  1. Suspicious activity reporting works. Someone reported to authorities the threatening text messages and social media posts the Utah suspect allegedly made. Items found in his home suggest a planned event that could have killed or injured many. It is a good idea to continue to promote the See Something, Say Something campaign in your community.
  2. First responders and public and private sector partners can benefit from training. The Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) offers in-person, virtual instructor-led and computer-based training, ensuring wider availability to meet the needs of more people.

OBP offers courses in Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Search Procedures, Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program Outreach, Homemade Explosives and Precursor Awareness, and IED Construction and Classification. Contact your local Protective Security Advisor or email for more information.

This article appears in the
Aug. 6, 2020 InfoGram.

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