BROWNSBURG — Though it was planned for months, the timing only seemed apropos as the Brownsburg Fire Territory (BFT) welcomed first responders and law enforcement from all over central Indiana to a special explosives preparedness and response training earlier this week with the thought of the Boston Marathon tragedy firmly ensconced in people’s minds.
The training, held by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), had been planned for months, however, and appears only 46 times across the United States, bringing in professionals from a variety of professions to learn from some of the top minds on the topic.
Brownsburg firefighter Chad Anspach attended the two-day class and said it was invaluable.
“A lot of this information being portrayed throughout the class is something from content experts who have worked with explosives or explosive ordinance disposal, so they bring a lot of experience and information that isn’t easily found in public resources like the Internet,” Anspach said.
BFT Fire Chief William Brown, who came to Brownsburg last year after having been the Task Force Coordinator for Indiana Task Force One, one of 28 Federal Urban Search and Rescue Teams under the scope of the DHS-Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said the class is an important part of being able to handle large scale events as best as possible to get people the medical care they need at an optimum pace.
“This course was paid for and developed by DHS and FEMA, so it’s no cost to the students or state,” he explained. “It’s a blend. There’s a member of the Indiana Metropolitan Police Department bomb squad, one of our personnel, two from Indianapolis Public Safety, and the audience is of 30 students. One of the instructors taught the same class in Boston.”
Brown said that though no one wants to think about it, the reality is that these events happen, and the point is to be prepared when they do.
“Hopefully, we won’t see anymore of these incidents, but it’s always been seen from the course that’s being taught here this week, it’s not an ‘if,’ but a ‘when,’ and the ‘when’ did just happen,” he said. “And when is the next one? That’s why DHS at the federal level and FEMA, along with the Indiana DHS and the BFT take this training seriously. It gives us the opportunity to come together with all agencies to work together, train together, so that if an incident were to occur in our jurisdiction or a neighboring one and we’re called in to aid, we’re prepared to do it.”
Dave Richardson, who serves on the Brownsburg Town Council as well as the BFT board, added, “This (training) shows that our department is being proactive instead of reactionary. We may be hosting it, but all of these other departments are represented. It’s impressive what they do in that regard.”
Anspach said that the class focused on previous incidents and talked about pre-planning to help prevent them from even happening.
“We covered specific types of injuries, treatments, and injuries associated with bombing incidents that are not typical injuries we encounter on a daily basis,” he said. “Then, of course, other considerations such as working with law enforcement because it is a crime scene and they’re trying to preserve evidence. A big thing is the number of patients and casualties generated from those incidents. We typically aren’t responding to that number of patients on a daily basis. That presents a litany of challenges.”
Brown expressed that one takeaway citizens can have regarding the events at the Boston Marathon is that they should always be vigilant and on the lookout for things that seem askew. And if they find them, immediately call the proper authorities to check on it.
“If they’re in the immediate area, try to capture as much in your mind as possible and leave in an orderly fashion as much as possible,” he urged, noting that authorities working the Boston Marathon case have openly asked for any photos, video, or audio that patrons at the event may have taken that could lead to solving the case.
“Turn those (pictures) over to law enforcement and use common sense,” he said. “It puts that many more eyes or ears around, and people need to be safety conscious of their surroundings. Take it to a smaller scale, the July 4th Festival put on by the Lions Club in town. Say you see a purse or backpack sitting by a trash can. People used to go open them up. Now we want them to be aware. They won’t get in trouble or be setting off a false alarm. Notify the authorities so we can deal with it in the proper manner.”