Preparing for the unexpected, VFD hosts IED, active-shooter training

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2016

SELF DESTRUCT: An attendee of the IED training takes a mock suicide vest for a test drive.  Photo by Jeremy Pittari

SELF DESTRUCT: An attendee of the IED training takes a mock suicide vest for a test drive.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Seemingly innocuous items can be turned into an improvised explosive device and emergency responders need to be able to recognize those items while working a call.
That was the message to local emergency responders at the McNeill Volunteer Fire Department Saturday morning. Camp Shelby Counter IED Instructor Mike Barron, who is also a member of the McNeill Volunteer Fire Department, shared his knowledge of the homemade explosive devices and active-shooter situations with the volunteer responders in the hopes that they will be able to recognize dangerous situations while saving lives.
He brought a large trailer full of IEDs he made based off of real life terrorist attacks, including a mockup of the pressure cooker bomb used in the Boston Marathon incident.
A bomb can be made of any number of household items, so long as they include the five basic components of a switch, initiator, main charge, power source and a container.
During his two decades of service in the Navy Special Operations, Barron said he saw a number of improvised devices, made from just about anything.
Pipe bombs are a common IED. As such, Barron said that having two ends of a pipe capped off is technically illegal. He said emergency responders need to keep an eye out for such things and report them when discovered.
“If you see something you need to react,” Barron said.
But sometimes, explosive devices can be hidden in the most common of items.
At the same time, common items can be used to save lives. He used a fire extinguisher as an example. During an active-shooter situation, people may forget that fire extinguishers could be used to assist in their escape, especially in enclosed areas such as a building. When escaping down a hallway, a discharged fire extinguisher could create enough of a visible distraction to allow people to escape.
“That fire extinguisher can save your life,” Barron said.
But when dealing with an active-shooter situation, there are three rules, which are listed in the order of importance: escape, hide or fight.
Barron said that escaping should be the first thing people try to do. If for some reason escape is not an option, then find a place to hide. And if all else fails, fight. That is where the fire extinguisher comes in again. Not only can it be used to mask an escape, but, if fight is the only option left, a fire extinguisher can be used as a weapon.
Barron’s job at Camp Shelby is to teach soldiers what to look for when detecting IEDs. To do that, he builds the props displayed in the trailer he brought to Saturday’s presentation.
After his presentation, he allowed attendees to drive military-grade robots and try using a fire extinguisher in an enclosed space to mask their escape from a gunman.
McNeill Fire Chief Donny Leonard said he will invite Barron back to do another presentation and invite the community to attend.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox