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     Indian Health Manual
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Circular Exhibit 03-01-A


CONDUCTING BUILDING SEARCHES

This exhibit is designed to help prepare for the potential threat of explosives-related violence.  While the ideas set forth are applicable in most cases, they are intended only as a guide.  The information provided is compiled from a wide range of sources, predominantly the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), including the actual experiences of ATF Special Agents.

Advance preparation can reduce the potential for personal injury and property damage.

  1. Bomb Threat.  In the event a bomb threat is received and employees are notified, in addition to taking other actions outlined in the Circular, employees will:

    1. Cease all conversations and shut down all noise-producing equipment and devices, including personal computers and radios.  Noise will interfere with conducting a search for the bomb device.  Essential conversations should be kept to a minimum and be as quiet as possible.

    2. Turn off and do not use any two-way communication devices.  Their use may detonate the bomb.

    3. Comply with the instructions of Emergency Organization Team (EOT) members.

  2. Bombs.  Bombs can be constructed to look like almost anything and can be placed or delivered in any number of ways.  The probability of finding a bomb that looks like the stereotypical bomb is almost nonexistent.  The only common denominator that exists among bombs is that they are designed or intended to explode.

    1. Most bombs are homemade and are limited in their design only by the imagination of, and resources available to, the bomber.

    2. When searching for a bomb, suspect anything that looks unusual.  Let the trained bomb technician determine what is or is not a bomb.

  3. Security Against Bomb Incidents.

    1. The vulnerability of a facility to a bomb attack is reduced significantly by controlled access and by compliance with building access requirements and processes, even if this may result in some reasonable interference with employee or visitor movement to conduct routine business.

    2. Factors that Decrease the risk of a bomb attack include:

      1. Using closed-circuit television cameras that cover interior and exterior building sites.

      2. Using building alarm systems.

      3. Inspecting packages and materials brought into the building.

      4. Keeping trash and dumpsite areas clear and free of debris.

      5. Being sensitive to suspicious persons and objects.

    3. Bombs can be delivered by car or left in an abandoned car.  This risk is reduced when parking restrictions are applied and enforced, and only properly identified employee vehicles are parked closest to the building, while visitor parking is located further away.  Compliance with the Indian Health Service (IHS) parking requirements helps reduce the risk of bomb threats.

  4. Search Decision.

    1. Decision.  Once a bomb threat has been received and the Designated Official notified, a decision will be made whether to:

      1. Initiate a search.

      2. Evacuate the building and initiate a search.

      3. Evacuate the building and wait for a search team to arrive who will conduct the search.

    2. Search.  When a room or particular area is searched, it should be marked or sealed with a piece of tape and reported to the supervisor of that area.

    3. Device Found.  If a device is located, it should not be disturbed.

    4. Location.  Its location should be well-marked and a route back to the device noted.

  5. Search Teams.  To be proficient in searching the building, search personnel must be thoroughly familiar with all hallways, rest rooms, false ceiling areas, and every location in the building where an explosive or incendiary device could be concealed.  When police officers or firefighters arrive at the building, the contents and the floor plan will be unfamiliar to them if they have not previously reconnoitered the facility.

  6. Designated Official.  The Designated Official decides who should conduct searches.  It is advisable to use more than one individual to search any area or room, no matter how small.  There are advantages and disadvantages to various methods of staffing the search teams.

    1. Using supervisory personnel to search is a quick approach and causes little disturbance.  There will be little loss of employee working time, but a morale problem may develop if it is discovered that a bomb threat was received and workers were left unaware.  The supervisor's search may not be thorough because of lack of training and his/her unfamiliarity with many areas in the building.

    2. Using area occupants to search their own areas is the best method for a rapid search.  The occupants' concern for their own safety will contribute toward a more thorough search.  Furthermore, the personnel conducting the search are familiar with what does or does not belong in a particular area.  Using occupants to a search will result in a shorter loss of work time than if all are evacuated prior to a search by trained teams.  Using the occupants to search can have a positive effect on morale, given a good training program to develop confidence.  Of course, this would require the training of the entire Headquarters work force, and ideally the performance of several practical training exercises.  One drawback of this search method is the increased danger to unevacuated workers.

    3. Using a trained team for the search is the best for safety, morale, and thoroughness, though it will result in a significant loss of production time.  It is a slow operation that requires comprehensive training and practice.

  7. Search Technique.  The following room-search technique is based on the use of a two-person search team.  There are many minor variations possible in searching a room.  The following contains only the basic techniques:

    1. When the two-person search team enters the room to be searched, they should first move to various parts of the room, stand quietly with their eyes closed, and listen for a clockwork device.  Frequently a clockwork mechanism can be quickly detected without the use of special equipment.  Even if no clockwork mechanism is detected, the team is now aware of the level of background noise within the room itself.

    2. Background noise or transferred sound is always disturbing during a building search.  If a ticking sound is heard but cannot be located, one might become unnerved.  The ticking sound may come from an unbalanced air-conditioner fan several floors away or from a dripping sink down the hall.  Sound will transfer through air-conditioning ducts, along water pipes, and through walls.  Background noise may also include outside traffic sounds, rain, and wind.

    3. The individual in charge of the search team should look around the room and determine how the room is to be divided for searching and to what height the first searching sweep should extend.  The first searching sweep will cover all items resting on the floor up to the selected height.

    4. The room should be divided into two virtually equal parts.  This equal division should be based on the number and type of objects in the room to be searched and not on the size of the room.  An imaginary line should be drawn between two objects in the room; e.g., the edge of the window on the north wall to the floor lamp on the south wall.

    5. The room searching technique can be expanded.  The same basic technique can be applied to search any enclosed area.  Common sense and logic should be used in searching.  If a guest speaker at a convention has been threatened, common sense would indicate searching the speaker's platform and microphones first, but always return to the searching technique.  The search team should not rely on random or spot-checking of only logical target areas.  The bomber may not be a logical person

  8. Room-searching Sweeps.

    1. First Room-searching Sweep.  Look at the furniture or objects in the room and determine the average height of the majority of items resting on the floor.  In an average room, this height, usually includes table or desk tops and chair backs.  The first searching height usually covers the items in the room up to hip height.

      1. After the person in charge of the search team divides the room and selects the searching height, each search team member should go to one end of the room-division line and start from a back-to-back position.  This is the starting point; the same point will be used on each successive searching sweep.  Each person now starts searching his/her way around the room, working toward the other person while checking all items resting on the floor around the wall area of the room.  When the two individuals meet face-to-face, they will have completed a "wall sweep."  They should then work together and check all items in the middle of the room up to the selected hip height, including the floor under the rugs.  This first searching sweep should also include items that may be mounted on or in the walls, such as air-conditioning ducts, baseboard heaters, and built-in wall cupboards, if these fixtures are below hip height.

      2. The first searching sweep usually consumes the most time and effort.  During all the searching sweeps, the team should use an electronic or medical stethoscope on walls, furniture items, and floors.

    2. Second Room-searching Sweep.  The individual in charge again looks at the furniture or objects in the room and determines the height of the second searching sweep.  This height is usually from the hip to the chin or top of the head.  The two searchers return to the starting point and repeat the searching technique at the second selected searching height.  This sweep usually covers pictures hanging on the walls, built-in bookcases, and tall table lamps.

    3. Third Room-searching Sweep.  When the second searching sweep is completed, the person in charge again determines the next searching height, usually from the chin or the top of the head up to the ceiling.  The third sweep is then made.  This sweep usually covers high mounted air-conditioning ducts and hanging light fixtures.

    4. Fourth Room-searching Sweep.  If the room has a false or suspended ceiling, the fourth sweep involves an investigation of this area.  The search-team members are to check the flush or ceiling-mounted light fixtures, air-conditioning or ventilation ducts, sound or speaker systems, electrical wiring, and structural frame members.  Steps:

      1. Have a sign or marker indicating "Search Completed" conspicuously posted in the area.

      2. Place a piece of colored Scotch tape across the door and door jamb approximately 2 feet above floor level if using a sign is not practical.

    5. All EOT members and employees involved in a search will only search for and report suspicious objects.  Employees will not move, jar, or touch a suspicious object or anything attached to it.  The removal or disarming of a bomb must be left to the professionals in explosive ordinance disposal.

  9. Summary.  The following steps should be taken in order to search a room:

    1. Divide the area and select a search height.

    2. Start from the bottom and work up.

    3. Start back-to-back and work toward each other.

    4. Go around the walls and proceed toward the center of the room.

  10. Locating Suspicious Objects.  When a suspicious object is discovered, the following procedures will be followed:

    1. Report the location, and provide an accurate description of the object to the appropriate Floor Coordinator.  This information will be relayed immediately to the Command Center, which will notify the police and fire departments, and the rescue squad.

    2. Do not place metal shields around the suspicious object.

    3. Do not attempt to cover the object.

    4. Identify the danger area, and block it off with a clear zone of at least 300 feet, including the floors below and above the object.

    5. Evacuate the building.

    6. No one will re-enter the building until the device has been removed/disarmed and the building declared safe for re-entry.

  11. Handling of the News Media.

    1. To furnish the news media with accurate information and to see that additional bomb threat calls are not precipitated by irresponsible statements from uninformed sources, it is of paramount importance that all inquiries from the news media be directed to one individual appointed as spokesperson.

    2. No other person should discuss the situation with outsiders, especially the news media.


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