|Hazardous Device Team's Armor|
The Academy started by releasing the writers onto a group of law enforcement professionals--some clearly less prepared for a writer's overly inquisitive nature than others. We had a couple hours to move between the set up stations and talk to these professionals. Several questions led to widened eyes, but most were met with amusement, and everyone was wonderful both about explaining what they did, showing us their toys, and answering our often rather alarming questions.
- What we usually refer to as the "Bomb Squad' is officially called (at least in Gilford County, NC) the Hazardous Device Unit. Members of the team are not only certified bomb technicians but are also certified as hazardous material technicians. Their suits (featured in the picture to the left) weigh approximately eighty pounds and are made from Cavlar and Ceramic. In the event they are caught in a blast, the ceramic will shatter and absorb some of the blasts impact.
- Fire fighter's tanks are filled with compressed air. Not oxygen.
- Police cars in Gilford County are equipped with a Remington 870 in the ceiling of the vehicle. (picture to the right)
- Finger print dust is used to lift prints on smooth, non-porous surfaces. For porous surfaces like cardboard or styrofoam magnetic silver black powder will be used.
|Lee Lofland, Kalayna, and Jonathan Hayes after the Banquet|
Day two started with a demonstration/dramatization of an active shooter in a school with law enforcement and EMS workers responding to the scene. This was followed by a full day of workshops and classes on several topics. I really needed to clone myself so I could attend multiple panels at once (but of course, I couldn't do that). These classes included topics such as Gun 101, Crash investigation, Handcuffing techniques, Firearms identification and ballistics, and undercover investigation. The day was rounded off with the Banquet (where keynote speaker Jeffrey Deaver spoke) and a late night signing. But I've skipped the best part . . .
|Tom Sweeney and Kalayna. FATS|
The second room used a slightly different system, and this one was my favorite because the Glock I was using had a realistic amount of kick to it. Apparently had it been firing live rounds the riffling would have caused the gun to pull right more, but otherwise, it was just like firing a real weapon--which was extremely useful to me as I'd never so much as held a gun before but I write about them. I could go on and on about FATS (in fact, I did when I first got home. Poor DH. He got the story with pantomimes and play-by-plays of the scenarios I faced.) but I'll spare you and move on.
The last day was the "debriefing", which was really a very large question and answer session. If you've ever been around a large group of writers given free rein to ask questions, you can probably guess that this led to points where I was frantically taking notes because it was a great question with an informative answer, and other times I was shaking my head because they weren't asking a question and they didn't care to listen to the professional's answer. As a whole, the debriefing would have benefited from a moderator, but it was an amazing opportunity to get clarification on many things we learned and covered over the previous two days.
This post is becoming obnoxiously long. Kudos to those of you still reading. I think I'm going to end this by saying this post couldn't possibly do justice to how amazing and informative the academy was. I have every intention of returning next year, and if you are a writer who wants to learn more about law enforcement/ ems/ fire fighting/ and other similar topics, I would encourage you to check it out.
Happy Friday everyone. Have a great weekend!