|Members of the Emery County SERT take part in an exercise at San Rafael Junior High School. The Sert searched the school for a simulated bomb during the drill. James Weaver and Deputy KC Alton search the building.|
Emery Countys local emergency planning committee was in the middle of the action at San Rafael Junior High on Feb. 21. Along with the Emery County Sheriffs Office, the Emery County School District, and the Utah County Bomb Squad, the LEPC staged a bomb threat and lockdown at the school. A two person team from the Utah Department of Safety, Division of Homeland Security was also on hand to watch the exercise.
As a training exercise for the sheriffs office and school staff, and a learning experience for the LEPC, a mock bomb threat was telephoned into San Rafael. SRJH Principal Garth Johnson had previously alerted students and teachers the exercise would be taking place, and when the time came, he telephoned the sheriffs office with the news of the bomb threat.
As soon as Principal Johnson telephoned the sheriffs office, a code red was announced on the schools intercom. Every teacher immediately locked down and secured their classrooms and began their training in emergency procedure. The Emery County School District has provided each teacher with a handbook outlining procedures in many different emergency scenarios, including natural disasters, stranger intrusions, and bomb threats.
The sheriffs deputies responded, immediately entered the school and began the search for the bomb. Eighteen officers, from the Sheriffs Office and Adult Probation and Parole who make up the Emery County SERT Team, in body armor, camo, and fully equipped, began the meticulous routine of the search. Two teams of five men each dispersed and went about the methodical search until a suspicious bag was found in a hallway. The remainder of the officers secured the perimeter of the area.
|The bomb retrieval robot from Utah County picked up the simulated bomb, carried it outside and disposed of it. Two members of the Utah County bomb squad participated in the drill at San Rafael Junior High.|
Several of the officers stood guard over the bag while the search of the remainder of the school was performed. Upon completion of the search, and finding only one suspicious bag, the bomb squad was called to remove the threat from the school.
Two members of the Utah County Bomb Squad arrived and the remote control robot entered the school to retrieve the suspected bomb. During each stage of the exercise, the LEPC was watching and freely asking questions concerning procedures and training.
While waiting for the bomb squad, the student body and staff of the school were evacuated to the football field. As soon as the evacuation was completed, a head count was taken and the deputies were informed that the building was clear and everyone was accounted for.
Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County bomb squad, explained how the robot works. He said the operator is in a trailer in front of the school and watches from a camera mounted on top of the robot to control its movements. In real life events, the robot can be maneuvered into position near the object in question, and the bag can be evaluated and opened before making a decision as to how to handle the explosive situation.
|Sgt. Spencer Cannon speaks with the group after the fake bomb was blown up.|
In the exercise at SRJH, the robot picked up the bag and moved it to an open area outside the school. The operator of the robot detonated the bag and the threat of the bomb was eliminated from the school. Following the removal of the bomb, the students were allowed to return to the building.
After the exercise was finished, everyone involved met in the school library for a wrap up session. Capt. Kyle Ekker, Sgt. Tom Harrison, and Sgt. Martin Wilson, who coordinated the exercise, said the exercise was successful and several things had arisen for further training and clarification. It was also stated that the school staff had handled the situation very well and proper evacuation procedures were followed.
Following the bomb threat exercise, Deputy Blake Gardner and his canine patrol partner, Niko, did a demonstration of Nikos abilities. Niko is a Malinois breed and is 3 years old. He is very protective of Deputy Gardner and is a constant partner. Niko is trained in personal protection, and is also trained to sniff many kinds of drugs.
Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon encourages this type of cooperative activity. These types of exercises demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the training and the preparedness of our SERT team. The Emery County School District has been especially cooperative with our training endeavors. This cooperation has added to the strength of our unit and we look forward to working together in the future, said Sheriff Guymon.