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KC bomb squad visits FMS

Knox County Bomb Squad’s vehicle made a stop for Farragut Middle School seventh-graders Friday, May 7.

Students listened to Bomb Squad representative Tom Walker, a Knox County Sheriffs Office detective, as he spoke about three “brave” robots.

As part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative recently implemented nationwide, FMS science teacher Mary Sue Pruitt arranged for the STEM presentation.

Three science classes listened to Walker, examined robots and a few students even put on a bomb suit.

Walker shared logistical facts and the “heroic” journeys the three robots embark on.

The robots Walker brought and commanded remotely were 200-pound Tiny, 400-pound Junior and 600-pound Bubba.

“Junior can drag a 250 pound man,” Walker said.

“We’ve had about 200 people surrender with the use of a robot.”

Robots come in handy when the Bomb Squad enters a “booby-trapped” meth-lab.

“We’ve done this a couple times –– Junior has been blown up twice.”

At one meth lab, a man had rigged a light bulb with poisonous gas and explosives.

But the Squad doesn’t blink when that happens. The “wounded” robots go back to the manufacturer, Remotec, for repairs.

Remotec is the leading manufacturer of robotics, Walker said.

“They have a pretty good lock on it.”

“Knox County is lucky” that Remotec is located in Clinton and Knox County gets to reap benefits, he added.

The Squad and Remotec have a partnership that allows the damaged robots to be fixed for free with Remotec. In turn, Knox County tests many of the robots for Remotec’s clients.

Walker said a Farragut High School student a few years ago had found a recipe online for an explosive, dry ice bomb.

After a successful throw of one bomb, the student attempted another. That bomb blew up close to his head, leaving him with hearing and sight damage –– and a missing finger or two.

Walker urged students never to try to make a bomb, especially if directions were discovered online. He said there are people who intentionally post directions that will prematurely explode, harming the bomb maker.

For 30 minutes, FMS student Will Doerger eyed a collapsed bomb suit beside the Bomb Squad vehicle.

He jumped at the chance to put on the suit, “I feel like the ugly, green giant,” he said.

The suit costs $16,000 –– $6,000 for the helmet and $10,000 for the suit.

After the suit is exposed to a bomb just once, the entire suit has to be replaced.

Gloves aren’t worn because techs need as much control as possible.

“Old bomb techs normally don’t have all their fingers,” Walker said.

Before Walker left, he encouraged students who are interested in a career in law enforcement to join the Explorer Program.

He added that to be considered for law enforcement, prior military experience, a degree or prior law enforcement experience is highly valued.

The officers involved with the Squad voluntarily join the team. There isn’t special pay or benefits for those who join.


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