Tammy Mutasa, Garland Reporter
The Garland Regional Response Team covers 13 North Texas counties and helps keep the public safe during bomb threats or against weapons of mass destruction.
The Garland Regional Response Team helps keep the public safe during bomb threats or with incidents of potential weapons of mass destruction.
It is made up of the health department, bomb unit and fire department. It was formed by a City Council resolution in 2004, motivated by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and hundreds of anthrax scares in Garland. The team covers 13 counties and 40 cities.
"Necessity is the mother of invention," said Jason Chessher, of the Garland Health Department. "We had a scenario that no one department was good at responding to, but with combined resources, we found we could formulate a very effective response."
The Garland Regional Response Team was on the front lines in North East Texas when the white powder scare broke out the first week of March. It was on scene in Wylie, Sachse and Maybank.
The team responds to incidents about twice a month, working with dangerous chemicals, bomb calls, hazardous materials and potential weapons of mass destruction.
The bomb unit sends robots to explosives or suspicious packages, so the team members don't have to risk their lives.
"There's a lot of threats out here that we have to prepare for, and that's one reason why we combine with the health department ," said Lt. C.T Payne of the Garland Bomb Unit. .
The Garland Regional Response Team, which includes a robot that costs about $230,000, is funded by federal and state grants. To date, the team has gotten about $6 million in funding to keep up with the latest technology.
"Allowing our team to respond to those jurisdictions has increased our competitiveness in the grant arena, which helps us to better equip our team," Chessher said.