Bomb squad uses high tech tools

CHARLESTON COUNTY, (SC) - From improvised explosive devices to booby trapped land, when something could blow up in the Lowcountry, the Charleston County bomb squad responds.

"We make sure the scene is secured," said Sgt. Patrick Morris. "Once we do that we take some positive or aggressive action to render it safe."

Morris has been with the Charleston County bomb squad for 9 years and said it takes 2 years of training to be certified as a bomb technician. In fact, there are only 2,700 bomb technicians in the U.S.

Morris said their squad is equipped with two vans with x- ray machines, disrupters that can shoot everything from bullets to water and robots named Big Al and Little Al which are remote controlled from a safe distance.

"We can utilize this to do just about anything, open doors, open car doors, go up stairs, and it can look places we can't," Morris said. "It's better for the robot to go obviously than us."

When any of their team's 11 bomb technicians are near a potentially explosive device, they are wearing a Kevlar vest, an 85-pound bomb suit or a haz-mat version of the bomb suit.

There is a cooling system in the helmet to keep the shield from fogging up, but the rest of the suit is heavy and hot, especially in the summer months. So, they only wear them for limited amounts of time.

While the bomb suit can help protect them from shrapnel, if a technician is near a huge blast, nothing can help.

"That's why we train so well to get it done and get it done quick," Morris said.

In 2009, the Charleston County Bomb Squad responded to 147 different calls.

Copyright 2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.