BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are in Berkeley County training first responders from across the state on how to handle an explosion scene.
Tuesday morning agents held a demonstration in Cross giving detectives, fire and crime scene investigators an up-close look at different types of explosions.
"Some of the guys are fire investigators and they may go into a house where there may be some sort of chemicals there and all you need for an explosive is a fuel and an oxidizer," said Special Agent Mark Waller. "So they need to know what's going to happen if those two get together and what the effects can be."
For each demonstration agents used less than a pound of explosives to show what kind of damage can be done with a small amount.
"It's amazing what a little bit can do," Waller said.
Some demos involved the use of plywood, while others involved everyday items like tires.
"All of our students here will have a better idea for when they go to a scene," Waller said. "It's very chaotic when you have a bombing scene or a large fire scene."
"With society and the world we live in, we see this stuff all the time and we need to be prepared," said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis. "This is a way for us to be better prepared for our citizens."
The training isn't all hands on though. The students also go through classroom styled sessions where they learn how to identify explosives, IED component recognition, and the correct techniques for gathering evidence, especially at a post-blast scene.
"If it's not collected properly or preserved properly it may never make its way to the courtroom," said Lt. Peter Cestare, a Crime Scene Investigator with Horry County Police. "That's vital to what we're doing here this week."
Lt. Cestare has responded to many post-blast scenes in his career, including 9/11. He said training like this is what will make the difference in the future.
"It can happen anywhere at any time, we're living in changing times," Cestare said. "More and more we're seeing things that are happening in areas that we're not accustomed to them being in."
More than 40 men and women from 22 agencies are taking part in the training.
Thursday students will have to use the skills discussed inside and outside the classroom and apply them while processing a post-blast scene involving a car bomb.
As part of the final exam in order to get certified with the ATF Post-Blast Investigation Techniques School, students will have to present their findings to instructors.
ATF agents hold this training a few times every year and urge agencies to contact the bureau for more information.