The Bomb Threat Response Plan Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
The Reality of Bombs
Bombings are very rare. In the last three years, there were only 65 incidents where an actual explosive device was placed in a school (excluding colleges and universities).
However, from 1993-1997, juveniles were responsible for 34% of the bombings in the United States. In some states, the percentage is as high as 66%. 87% of the devices that juveniles build function, which is 6% higher than the national average of 81% for all bombs placed on a target. Juveniles have built sophisticated devices, some even using high explosives.
We must investigate and respond to every bomb threat we receive.
To respond properly and consistently, we have created a bomb threat response plan. This presentation will explain our plan.
The Reality of Bombs
Even though bomb threats may be frightening, we must remain calm and professional. Our first priority is to safeguard students and staff. We must stick to the protocol to ensure that panic does not occur.
We must also take measures to prevent bomb threats.
Penalties for False Bomb Threats
Making a false bomb threat is a federal offense punishable under United States Code 18-844e, with a penalty of up to ten years in prison, $250,000 fine, or both. This penalty also applies to juvenile offenders.
University and College Policy
Does your district have specific penalties and sanctions if a student or staff member is caught making a false bomb threat?
Has your school adopted any additional measures?
To combat bomb threats, we have implemented a two-part prevention initiative:
Improve the physical security of the school
Improve relations between students, faculty, and administration.
It is especially important that we listen to students and make students feel comfortable coming forward with information.
As part of our incident prevention effort, all staff must be alert for suspicious items.
School staff know what belongs in the buildings and what does not. If you see an item that you feel does not belong or makes you suspicious in any way:
DO NOT TOUCH IT.
If possible, secure the area (such as locking the door to the room where the item is).
Notify the Site Decision Maker.
Prevention: Suspicious Items
Prevention: Suspicious Packages
Many bombs are mailed to the target. All staff who receive mail should be aware of the possible signs of a suspicious package. The presence of a few or many of these items should activate the suspicious item protocol.
Foreign postmark, airmail, or special delivery markings.
Postage irregularities, including excessive postage, no postage, or unusual stamps.
Return address irregularities, including no return address, a return address that does not match the postmark, or a return address that is not familiar to the person the package is addressed to
Delivery address irregularities, including a title with no name, the wrong title with a name,
Badly typed or poorly written addresses
Restrictive markings or special handling instructions, such as "Personal," "Confidential," "Special Delivery," "Open By Addressee Only"
Suspicious package indicators (continued)
Visual distractions on the package such as drawings, statements, or handmade postage
A rigid or bulky envelope
An oddly shaped, unevenly-weighted, lopsided, or lumpy package
A strange odor coming from the package
Oily stains or discoloration on the package
Protruding wires or tinfoil
Over-wrapping with excessive securing material such as tape or string
A package that is not expected by the addressee
A package left by unknown person
Prevention: Suspicious Packages
Although the presence of one of these conditions does not mean, for certain, that there is a bomb in the package, check further if any of these indicators are present. Find out if the recipient is expecting the package, recognizes the return address, and if the package is the right size for the item expected. Verify the return address. If any of these items come up a "no," investigate further and alert police.
Most importantly, DO NOT OPEN ANY SUSPICIOUS PACKAGES. Many mail bombs are triggered by the act of opening the box or envelope. Leave the package where it is, evacuate the area, and call the bomb squad.
Prevention: Suspicious Packages
Bomb Threat Response Plan
Your school needs to develop a bomb threat response plan. We’ll now discuss the details of that plan.
Bomb Threat Response Team
Your school should create a Bomb Threat Response Team. This multidisciplinary team has the responsibility of determining and coordinating the response to each bomb threat, as well as interfacing with community emergency services like fire and police.
The members of our BTRT should be selected and trained.
Each BTRT member has a specific responsibility. Your BTRT should create a bomb threat response plan specifically for your school.
Site Decision Maker
The head of the BTRT is the Site Decision Maker. This person will coordinate all activities and make all final judgment calls. An alternate should be selected in the event that this person is not available.
Coordination with Emergency Services
The BTRT should coordinate all its efforts with fire, police, the bomb squad, and other community resources. Each agency’s role will be defined and emergency services should visited the school to plan their response. We are striving for a seamless response to all incidents.
In cooperation with emergency services, you should conduct a review of your facilities and implement additional physical security measures where deemed appropriate.
In the event that the BTRT needs to communicate instructions to staff and students, you should utilize a pre-selected communication system.
If that primary method is unavailable, a secondary communication system should be in place.
Threat Reception Protocols
The BTRT should implement specific protocols for receiving a bomb threat and gathering information. All staff should be trained in these protocols.
Once a threat is received, the BTRT is assembled. The Threat Assessment Team then assesses the threat and determines an appropriate response.
Responses may include search and evacuate if warranted, evacuate, or another method.
Once the BTRT and Threat Assessment Teams have determined how to proceed, the Search Teams may be assembled to search the school and/or the Evacuation Units may be deployed to oversee evacuation. These teams should be trained and all staff should be trained in evacuation procedures for a bomb threat.
If the threat maker is known and is a student, the BTRT/TAT may take additional steps, including interviewing the threatner, and his/her teachers, friends, and parents. The Team should then determine appropriate immediate and long-term responses to address the current situation and the student’s long-term well-being.
Searching Own Areas
If a search is called for, you should have a communication method or code established.
This will be your notification to check your own area for suspicious items. Visually sweep your room, looking for out-of-place items. If you find anything out of the ordinary, take the following steps.
Suspicious Items Click the video box to begin.
The common areas of the building and the exterior should be searched by volunteer search teams who have been trained for this activity.
If an evacuation is called for, notification should be made through a predetermined manner. Then, a specific evacuation protocol should be followed. All staff should be trained in this protocol.
There should be additional steps for situations when a bomb threat involves:
A school bus
A special event
A field trip
Before or after school hours
During summer sessions
If There is an Explosion
Administration should call 911, Fire, and Police.
Take cover. Remain where you are unless you are in immediate danger. If you are in immediate danger, get quickly to the nearest safe location.
Notify the Office via immediately if someone you are with is injured or if you are injured. Also notify the office if you have any information about the explosion or what might have caused it.
If possible and you are trained, render emergency assistance to injured persons in the area.
Administration should communicate instructions to staff as quickly as possible.
Custodial staff should shut off gas and electricity to the building if it can be done safely.
Administration should assess what exploded, where, and what injuries were caused. They should determine evacuation course of action and communicate with first responders.
As quickly as possible, EMS will treat injuries.
If the decision is made to evacuate, you should receive evacuation instructions.
The BTRT should debrief after every bomb threat response to improve our procedures. Please contact someone if you have feedback.
In cooperation with law enforcement, the school should investigate every bomb threat and attempt to find out who perpetrated it and take appropriate action. If you hear any rumors or discussions about the threat, please speak to a member of the BTRT.
Encourage students you work with to tell you if they have any knowledge of who made the threat. Then, report this information to the BTRT.
Your school should provide support services for staff and students after a bomb threat.
Your school should also properly reports each bomb threat to law enforcement and to the district.
Understanding and following procedures will be extremely important in an emergency where emotions may be running high. Thank you for your attention.