Arkansas has seven certified bomb squads regionally located throughout the state with the ability to respond anywhere within the state or nation, an official said.
The state’s certified bomb squads are in El Dorado, Bentonville, Fort Smith, Conway, Little Rock and Jonesboro, said Melody Daniel, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management public information officer. The Jonesboro area’s certified bomb squad is a joint effort between area’s public safety agencies and Arkansas State Police, Daniel said.
Also, Arkansas State Police has a certified bomb squad team that primarily responds to an area spanning from White County to Phillips County before coming back down to Clark County, or an area that forms a “backward C,” she said.
Most of the state’s certified bomb squads are associated with a first responder or public safety agency in that particular area, the Texarkana Gazette reported.
While El Dorado’s certified bomb squad recently responded to Texarkana, there’s no hard and fast rule that the nearest bomb squad to the area needing assistance must be called or requested, Daniel said.
El Dorado is less than 90 miles from Texarkana.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management does not directly oversee the certified bomb squads.
ADEM processes federal and state grants, but it is not an inspection or regulatory agency, Daniel said. Instead, ADEM helps administer Homeland Security grant funds received within the state.
Because Homeland Security funds assist in certified bomb squad operations, any of the seven bomb squads in the state can respond statewide or nationally, Daniel said.
ADEM is a central point of information and resource agency promoting situational awareness.
In its 2018 report, ADEM logged 50 public threat events that were reported to the agency. This category covers, but is not confined to, suspicious packages.
Overall, ADEM took reports of 2,879 incidents last year with the top two categories being the transport of non-hazardous materials followed by the category of any type of hazardous materials, Daniel said.