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WPD bomb squad keeps up skills to protect Cape Fear region

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Explosions, stress, pressure — all in a day’s work for the six-member Wilmington Police Department’s bomb squad. The group, with the help of a robot called Sheila, keeps up their skills in frequent trainings to prepare for anything in the region. Anything — including two calls in the past two weeks.

Bomb technician Joe Dolan said when Sheila joined the unit three years ago, their job became a little safer.

“The robot keeps us from having to put on the bomb suit and go down and actually kneel over the package,” Dolan said.

But Dolan said sometimes Sheila can’t be used. That’s what’s called a remote operation. One member of the unit has to put on a 95-pound suit and do what they call “The Long Walk.”

“It’s a team effort when you get back to the truck with whatever equipment you need, but operating on a package … You’re all on your own. So they call it the long walk,” Dolan said.

Dolan said to keep up their skills, they do basic training with the FBI for six weeks, then continue training days every couple of weeks.

Just two weeks ago, the bomb unit was called to a report of a suspicious device inside a home in Surf City. On Monday, called out again to a location in Leland. In the instance in Surf City, police said the device turned out to be a Halloween prop — not a bomb. To the bomb unit, however, it doesn’t matter.

“To us everything is live until it’s not. So, we handle everything with the utmost safety and what we find out later is what we find out later,” Dolan said.

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