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A Combination of Technology and Common Sense

By Cpl. 168 Lucius Lake
Bomb Technician

Since the outcome of September 11th attacks in the USA and the threat of Anthrax , plus a reminder of the Oklahoma City bombing, it is practically impossible to determine at the outset whether or not a bomb threat is real.

Bombs can be constructed to look like almost anything and can be placed or delivered in a variety of ways and places. The probability of finding a bomb that looks like a stereotypical bomb, like seen on television is almost non- existent. The only common factor that exists among bombs is that they are designed or intended to explode.

Most bombs are home made and can be limited in their design only by imagination of, and resources available to the bomb maker. With the advent of the internet and the wealth of information available, one only has to surf the Net and find the relevant sites, then either download the information or purchase the literature.

Why Bomb Scares

The caller wants to create an atmosphere of anxiety and panic which will in turn, result in a disruption of normal activities and reduction in revenue collection at the facility where the device is purportedly placed, e.g. Schools, Banks, Supermarkets and Private Companies as it relates to St. Lucia. The caller could also be a disgruntled worker or colleague and wants to get even, because of an action taken by management.

Why Prepare

Through proper preparation, one can reduce the accessibility of a building and identify those areas that can be easily accessible by the possible bomber. This would limit the amount of time lost to searching. Proper planning can also reduce the threat of panic, the most contagious of human emotions. In the context of a Bomb Threat, panic is the ultimate achievement of the caller.

NOTE: All Bomb Threats must be taken seriously. There are no excuses for not taking every step necessary to meet the threat.

How to Prepare

In preparing to cope with a Bomb Threat, it is necessary to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or a Bomb Incident Plan known to all members of staff, with drills done every quarter or as deemed necessary by management and should include:
1. Chain of command after threat is received; who do you call
2. Initiate evacuation of facility, carrying all personal items, i.e. work & gym bags, lunch kits (inform other business establishments within close proximity)
3. Call the Emergency Services, Police and Fire Service
4. Assembly Point (should be at least 300 meters away from facility)
5. Head count, all personnel should be accounted for
6. Person who received call should await the arrival of the Police to be interviewed
7. Supervised search to be done by a member of staff along with the Bomb Squad personnel.

Telephone Switchboard Operator

All personnel, especially Telephone Switchboard Operators, should issue a calm response to the bomb threat caller as it may assist in obtaining additional information. Keep the caller on the line as long as possible and record every word spoken. Pay particular attention to background noises such as vehicles passing by, music playing and any other noise which may give clues to the location. Listen closely to the voice (male, female), voice quality (calm, stern, excited), accents (patois, America, French etc.) and speech impediments (stammering).

The Royal St. Lucia Police Force has a number of persons who have been trained overseas and are able to attend to all Bomb Threats received.