Schools and communities in Johnston County might be safer from bombs because of a seminar organized by the Clayton Police Department.
The free training about safe responses to school and terrorist bombings was a condensed version of a week-long course available at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, makes the course available when 50 or more people register, said Clayton detective Jason Linder.
Linder attended the week-long training at New Mexico Tech and said it was excellent. He wanted to bring what he learned back to Clayton:
“Out there you get to see the explosives set off,” Linder said. “It’s a lot more in depth, and you get into certain investigations. You can’t teach all the week-long material, but you try to take the main components.”
Nearly 60 people attended, including two FBI agents, members of the Clayton Police Department, Clayton Fire Department, the Raleigh Fire Department, Johnston County school resource officers and the Johnston County emergency medical services team.
Gathered in the Clayton Center council chambers, the eclectic group of men and women listened to instructors Bobby Munshower and Bobby Klepper, consultants with the counterterrorism company A-T Solutions in Fredericksburg, Va. The morning lectures were about school bombings, and the afternoon lectures were about terrorist bombings.
Klepper reminded the attendees of the limitation of the day-long instruction. “We’re not training you to be a bomb tech,” he said. “Don’t get into it, and don’t go home and try it.”
The course covered how to recognize explosive materials and devices, understanding how explosives work and how to prevent and respond to explosions.
In an explosion, Klepper explained, the first shock wave is called a “shock front.” It’s intense and causes the most injuries. The “negative pressure wave” that follows is less intense but lasts longer. And, he said, it can get extremely hot.
“The thermal effect can reach up to 7,000 degrees,” Klepper said, “so it’s very hard to survive a very large blast.”
Klepper also taught the attendees how to look for homemade bombs. Such devices are common, he said, because recipes are just an Internet search away and materials for homemade bombs are cheap. Fifty pounds of fertilizer, he said, might be $20 or $30.
“It’s extremely dynamic, and it doesn’t cost a whole lot,” Klepper said, adding, “You don’t need a lot of skills to make them.”
The course included an overview of domestic and international terrorism, along with common tactics and targets of different kinds of terrorits.
Town Councilman Jason Thompson said the seminar would prove useful, even though Clayton has not seen bombings.
“In our area, we get a lot of bomb threats,” he said. “But if you don’t know what to look for, you could be caught by surprise.”