Apparently, there are a few paranoid people where I work. Either that, or I really don’t think some things will ever pose a large threat to me. Things like aliens, nuclear winter, bombs… You know, the kind of stuff that only makes the headlines in the tabloids. Yesterday, I attended a training session to become one of the fire wardens for the floor in the office where I work. I think most people have been going through fire drills since the age of 5, so this really shouldn’t be anything new.
Along with the fire training, an officer from the city bomb squad stopped by. After going over the bomb threat checklist (for all those times you receive a bomb threat at your desk but just can’t remember the information to get), he said don’t call us first because we aren’t going to come.
And to myself, I thought that being a member of the bomb squad, one would think he is exactly who should respond. But I remained open to his reasons. He explained that very often, bombs are not four to six feet tall with strange bubbling liquids and a prominent red count down clock on the front. More often they are contained in items like a backpack, box, or purse. Something that could blend in. Basically, and item that would be hard to recognize as being out of place for someone not familiar with the building.
Apparently the criminal masterminds don’t often leave large shiny bombs and overly elaborate traps for a crack team of investigators and action-adventure heroes to battle and defeat only seconds before certain and catastrophic death. I guess most of the time, if someone really wants to blow something up, they make the bomb as inconspicuous as possible. And here I thought the movies were accurate all this time.
After he explained how much explosive it would actually take to bring down a building, people still thought the best thing to do for a bomb threat would be to evacuate immediately. Last year, of all the bomb threats reported, not a single device was ever found. Obviously, this information isn’t enough to create the widespread panic some people obviously desired.
Paranoid Lady: “Could someone put a bomb big enough to take down a building in a van?” Bomb Squad Guy: “Yes. That is actually what happened in the Oklahoma City bombing.” Paranoid Lady: “So if I receive a bomb threat and someone pulls up in a van, I should run.” Bomb Squad Guy: “Well, if the threat is a van will blow up by your building, I would certainly get away from the windows, but an explosion outside probably wouldn’t bring down a structure.” Paranoid Lady (not giving up): “What if they pulled the van into the building?” Bomb Squad Guy: “Like, if they drove the van through the glass doors and into the lobby, and then the driver got out and took off running?” Paranoid Lady: “Exactly. I’m not sticking around and looking for any bomb if that happens.” (sits back smugly contented) Bomb Squad Guy: “When you get a phone call telling you personally that someone will blow up your building with a van and then someone drives a van into the lobby downstairs, go ahead and run. But call me first, because I’d like to come see it.”
If I ever wanted to make a bomb threat (which I don’t), I’d make sure I called that lady, because I know her checklist is sitting right beside her phone for the day that someone tells her they are going to drive a van into the lobby.
Until then, your building is probably pretty safe. Unless the man with the bomb has initials of J.B. and an employee number 007. If that happens, I’ll be running just a little ahead of you.