Edited Version August 11, 1999
EIIP Classroom Online Presentation
"Bomb Threat Management"
The original unedited transcript of the August 11, 1999 online Virtual Classroom presentation is available on the EIIP Virtual Forum (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each were deleted but content of discussions, questions, and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the presenter to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.
Amy Sebring: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Classroom!
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Background information for today's session may be found at <http://www.emforum.org/vclass/990811.htm> . We will have a presentation for about thirty minutes, and then have audience Q&A for the last thirty minutes. We will review the instructions for Q&A as we are about to begin that portion.
We are pleased to welcome Jim McGinty, President of Protection Planning and Chairman of the Police Officers Tactical Operations Association. Jim has special expertise in the management of bomb threats, and today he will present some important planning and training considerations. A vivid reminder <http://www.emforum.org/vclass/mcginty1.htm>.
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Thank you for coming back to be with us today, Jim.
Jim McGinty: You are welcome. Glad to be here. I am going to start my presentation and I ask all to have some patience with me.
As you all know, bomb threats are a way of life for most of us in the business community. It's how we approach them or prepare ourselves that make the issues of liability and safety a concern. We need to start with a plan or policy, divided into three sections.
The first deals with the threat itself. As you know, this must occur by phone. The threat has to be evaluated and you have to ask yourself: Who does this? I recommend an odd number team. This takes into account a tie-breaker. The team should also have the management member who can make the call to evacuate. Once the threat is evaluated then a decision has to be made; ignore the threat, evacuate at once, or search and evacuate if necessary.
Second part of the plan deals with the finding of an explosive device or suspected device. Most public safety agencies will NOT search your building. This, of course, is on a bomb threat alone. If something suspicious is found it now becomes a public safety matter and the liability shifts. Up to that point the liability remains with the company.
The third part of the plan deals with an actual explosion. The public safety people will handle the reactive measures. The company has to have in place what to do once the public safety people leave. Let me expand on this. Most companies do not have a plan that takes into account, crime scene management. We can hold properties until we feel we have gotten all of our evidence; this may take a couple of hours or a couple of days.
It's important for a company to identify a liaison person that will work with the police. Remember --- we do not know your building or business. Having a liaison person helps smooth out the rough spots when public safety is there. My last message is training.
Having the proper training for phone operators, mailroom folks, people responsible for the search, and of course, management responsible for the decision. Training is the key. We react to incidents and when we react the right way it just makes the situation a lot better to handle. Id like to start the questions.
Amy Sebring: Thank you, Jim. You refer to businesses, but I expect this applies equally to public facilities and schools. We will now turn you over to our audience. If you have a question or comment, please indicate by inputting a question mark (?) to the chat screen. Then compose your question but hold it until you are recognized; then hit Enter or Send. First question, please?
Amy Sebring: While folks are thinking, when does a bombing incident become a matter involving the FBI?
Jim McGinty: The FBI gets involved when it enters certain jurisdiction, like a federal building or act of terrorism.
David Wolfe: Are there any (local) sources which collect all hazmat info used/stored with local businesses?
Jim McGinty: David, what do mean by hazmat info?
David Wolfe: On-site usage or storage of hazardous materials.
Jim McGinty: Fire departments usually have a list of hazmat sites. If your company has hazardous material it usually comes under what they call a SARA site, this is federal law.
Amy Sebring: Also LEPC, David.
Libbi RuckerReed: David, SARA information is required to be on file with local FD's and EMAs. Other hazmat not covered by SARA should be locally coordinated with good communications between companies and EMA.
Jim McGinty: It comes down to what is stored at the site.
David Wolfe: Thanks, my concern was related to clearing a larger area that may result from additional explosions.
Billy Zwerschke: How would this apply to hospitals and nursing homes? Evacuation becomes difficult at these places.
Amy Sebring: I assume it pertains to the need for hospitals and other facilities to have a bomb threat management plan as well.
Jim McGinty: Billy, hospitals pose a difficult situation, they are critical care facilities. What I mean by this, is that you may not be able to just evacuate a hospital.
Libbi RuckerReed: Where is training available for companies to learn how to conduct effective SAFE searches of their buildings without putting their staff in danger?
Jim McGinty: Libbi, there are courses offered that show how to properly search and how to properly react to a suspicious situation.
Libbi RuckerReed: Where? Who do we need to contact for this information?
Jim McGinty: Our company specializes in Bomb Threat management. At the end, maybe, we can post the name and how to contact us?
Amy Sebring: Yes, we can do. Home page of Jim's company is on our background page, <http://www.protectionplanning.com>.
Terry Storer: Should there be a system of sharing in place to provide threat intelligence to the local "business" community? Many times law enforcement knows of some activity but the information does not reach emergency management.
Jim McGinty: There should be a system in place, I encourage you and everyone to contact your local law enforcement agencies and start a liaison with them; sometimes it just takes a little nudging.
Ask the question, why should you do this? Remember --- there are only two reasons for bomb threats. One, to mess up your day; the other, to give you a warning that there is a bomb in your building.
Russell Coile: Would you please tell us what we should listen for if someone telephones a bomb threat?
Jim McGinty: The caller's voice: Is there emotion? What did they say during the threat? Did they give a reason? A caller making the real call will give you the information you need to identify as one.
David Wolfe: Concerning proactive or preventive measures --- many government buildings have installed metal detection equipment, is this one of the more viable solutions?
Jim McGinty: It helps.
Avagene Moore: Jim, my city sees a lot of bomb threats that prove to be hoaxes. (Never found a bomb.) As result, I feel many responders, law enforcement included, are complacent about any call that comes in. What do you suggest to overcome this complacency short of a bomb finally exploding?
Jim McGinty: Yes, building security is always a concern. The fact that 99.9 percent are hoaxes is a concern. They just see so much but the climate surrounding us should keep everyone on their toes. I believe this is done through communication. We need to talk to one another and express our concerns.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much, Jim, and thank you audience. We will have a text transcript posted later today, and a reformatted version early next week. You can access these via the Transcripts link under Quick Picks on our home page. Good content, Jim. Thank you for persevering.
Jim McGinty: Thank you, all. I really enjoyed it.
Terry Storer: Thanks, Jim. There was some good info I'll share at our Safety Committee meeting this P.M.
Amy Sebring:If you have not already made a pledge, please see
<http://www.emforum.org/eiip/pledge/pledge.asp>. We will be ringing the bell for new pledges.
Our time is about up, but before we adjourn, Ava will give us a heads up on our upcoming events.
Avagene Moore: Thanks, Amy. I enjoyed your presentation today, Jim. Thank you for being here with us!
Next week's events are:
The Round Table on Tuesday August 17 is the session hosted by the Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI). Join us at 12 Noon EDT for that informal discussion about fire service issues.
On Wednesday, a BIG event! We celebrate the 2nd anniversary or birthday of the EIIP Virtual Forum on August 18, 12 Noon EDT. Surprise messages from distinguished people in the business and a time of celebration! Make your plans to be here and arrive early. We can only accommodate 50 people in the Virtual Forum at this point with our updated software.
Get your pledge in. We want 100 pledges. That is it for now, Amy.
Amy Sebring: Thank you, Ava. We will adjourn the session but you are invited to join us back in the Virtual Forum room for a few more minutes of open discussion and to thank our guest.