ST. GEORGE, Utah - Bomb squads are usually trying to disarm explosives, but Thursday technicians set them off.
The Washington County Bomb Squad detonated heavy explosives as part of demonstration to the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Coordinator Lieutenant Nate Brooksby said the demonstration was in part to show the dangerous power of bombs.
“You’ve got a 360 degree spherical blast radius coming off that explosive," Brooksby said. “If you take that same charge and put it inside where we have walls and corners, intensify that blast up to 10 times.”
The Washington County Bomb Squad is one of eight throughout Utah, and it employs five technicians. Brooksby said demand for squads have grown since the terror attacks of September 11.
“We average about two calls a month,” Brooksby said. “We also do a training for first responders, and we’ve done a community outreach in the last couple of years to help retail stores that are selling what we’d consider precursors to homemade explosives.”
Earlier this week, the bomb squad put on a much larger show as part of a state-wide training for bomb squad technicians. There, they blew up cars and a school bus. They do it not just to show the awesome power of explosives, but also to demonstrate how important it is to have personnel close by to disarm them.
“It’s not there without the bomb squad,” Brooksby said. “So the idea that somebody could go pick up some military ordinance, but they wouldn’t know how to dispose of it. Or they wouldn’t know what it was made up of.”
The majority of calls they get are suspicious packages. Robots and other devices help determine what is and isn’t a bomb. It’s a nerve-wrecking call because of the unknown, but technicians say it better to be safe than the alternative.