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Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 12:06 am

HAVING A BLAST

PHOTO BY BRUCE RUSHTON

 

Springfield has been host to myriad you-don’t-see-that-every-day gatherings, from the World Juggling Federation Convention to confabs of Elvis impersonators. But we feel especially secure this week as the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators is in town for four days of annual training that ends on Friday. Don’t look for big signs – the word “bomb” doesn’t appear anywhere inside or outside the Wyndham City Centre, where the event is denoted by the moniker IABTI on schedules posted in the hotel. “We don’t want to scare people,” explained James “Mitch” Paine, an association director. The training included a lecture from a cop on how to make methamphetamine, complete with photographs from his own lab that he sets up, legally, to show other officers what to watch out for when responding to potentially explosive drug-making operations – iodine vapor is no fun, and be careful when peeling apart batteries to extract lithium because it’s easy to cut yourself. The event also helped four-legged first responders keep skills sharp. Shortly after Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered a speech on Monday, bomb-sniffing dogs swept the premises outside meeting rooms, checking under furniture, peering inside trash cans and going through restrooms, as part of a training exercise. Paine, who was once a bomb technician for the DuPage County sheriff’s office and now works for the Department of Homeland Security (he isn’t allowed to say just what he does), recalls once helping defuse 21 explosive devices, plus an explosive-laden suicide belt, rigged up by a suicidal man in Carol Stream – he says that he sometimes misses the hands-on work. We’re just glad someone is doing it.

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