Eyewitness News follows CT bomb squadPosted: Updated:
Connecticut's state police bomb squad is an elite unit with each member surviving a rigorous selection process only to be thrust back into the path of potential danger.
One of those dangers involves hazardous materials and possible explosives.
"It's a good job," said Trooper Bob Maynard. "I enjoy what I do and that's what it really comes down to."
Troopers Maynard and Mike Avery downplayed the dangers and difficulties they deal with daily as bomb technicians.
"You just fall back on your training," Avery said. "It's the path we chose."
The troopers work with bomb-detecting dogs, who are valuable members of the team, using their keen senses to seek out potential harm.
"Leroy is my explosive detection K-9," Avery said. "He's a black lab and he can detect both high and low explosives."
The troopers have done security sweeps for dignitaries such as the president, responded to reports of suspicious or unattended packages and checked out mysterious white powder found in the mail.
"Anytime there's a bomb threat we usually respond with our K-9's and search the area with him," Avery said.
In certain situations, remote controlled robots are sent in to help assess the danger.
Sometimes, working with a robot can present limitations, so a tech will suit up in a 90-pound suit with only their fingers exposed to allow them to work.
"It'll protect him from fragmentation, blast, over pressure and any incendiary affects," Avery said.
On rare occasions, the bomb squad use a thick-steeled bomb pot that will encase items that can't be diffused or dealt with on site.
"We can go transport it to a safe location to render it safe," Avery said.
Capt. L.J. Fusaro oversees the training for the bomb squad.
"They've undergone rigorous training, ongoing training. They're very seasoned," he said. "They've developed skills, traits and knowledge that make them resourceful to this department and to the state of Connecticut."
The Connecticut State Police bomb squad works closely with outside law enforcement as well.
"Particularly the Massachusetts State Police, where we augment them as necessary at high-tech events where they need additional bomb techs and K-9 handlers, and that was the case this year in Boston prior to and after the unfortunate events," Fusaro said.
Connecticut's bomb techs actually assisted in the security sweep just prior to the start of the Boston Marathon and returned to the race within an hour of the explosions.
"Responding to calls throughout the city because the volume of calls just increased so much. they had a command post set up in the Lenox Hotel and it was our squad, Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police Department and a few others and they just had a list," Avery said. "It was really organized, rotating us off going to check out suspect items throughout the city."
The Connecticut team rotated crews in Boston for nearly a week after the bombings. Eyewitness News learned the majority of the calls they go out on turn out to be false alarms.
"But that 1 percent of the time, it is something bad, we want to be there and make sure that it is taken care of and people are safe," Avery said.
Some facts about the bomb squad:
- Several members of the bomb squad are also on the SWAT Team.
- Many of the explosive detector dogs working throughout New England and New York attended the CT State Police Training Academy.
- All CT State Police (CSP) bomb technicians are K-9 handlers.
- CSP bomb squad technicians responded to Newtown in addition to other members of the State Police Emergency Services Unit.
- Just like the explosive detector Labrador retrievers assigned to the Mass Transit Security Team, the bomb squad K-9s are trained through the "food reward" system too.
- Bomb technicians attend Hazardous Device training school in Alabama.
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