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How Vt. would respond to bomb scare - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How Vt. would respond to bomb scare

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WILLISTON, Vt. -

The Vermont State Police Bomb Squad has nine members who respond to about 30-40 calls each year. 

"All a bomb is, is some means of containing an explosive material to a point where it can no longer contain it and it bursts," explained Lt. Paul White, commander of the Vermont State Police Bomb Squad.

White says explosive devices are relatively easy to make, don't require much sophistication and are obviously dangerous. But so far, Vermont has for the most part remained out of harm's way.

"For someone to build a bomb is not really uncommon, but to have an actual bombing-- intending to do somebody harm-- is pretty rare in Vermont," White said.

The last time there was a deadly bomb explosion in Vermont was back in 1998. A mail bomb killed a man in Fair Haven and severely injured his mother.

Police get about 40 calls a year for suspicious devices, and when that happens, the squad of nine state police officers deploys high-tech tools to keep themselves and the public safe.

With the help of a remote-controlled robot, officers can take a look at the suspicious device from the safety of their truck.

"You can move the arm, open, close the gripper, fire the disruptor, whatever you need to do can all be done from here," White said.

The robot even has a speaker and a microphone so cops can communicate with a suspect who barricades himself inside a room.

"The robot has three cameras, so from here you can not only drive it, you can see what the robot sees and hear what the robot hears," White explained, while showing the robot control board inside the truck.

The robot can take instant X-rays, check for chemicals and even dismantle bombs. In the event members of the squad need to handle the package themselves, they wear 80 pounds of protection which includes a body suit, plus a helmet, and leg and foot protection made of metal plates and Kevlar.  The suit is designed to protect its wearer from shrapnel. It's very heavy and tough to maneuver.

"It's tiring for sure," White said. "Have that thing on for more than a half hour and it can be exhausting."

The bomb squad members all work other jobs within the state police. So their response time to a scene can sometimes take a couple of hours depending where the call comes from. The bomb squad truck is stored at the Williston barracks.

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