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Okla. doctors, police collaborate to prevent human bombs


EDMOND, Okla. — Oklahomans know painfully well the toll of a terrorist attack. In 1995, a 4,000-pound truck bomb killed 168 people and crumbled the front off the Alfred P. Murrah Building. 

But today’s terrorists are more sophisticated; their devices are smaller. 

According to Edmond bomb technician Marion Cain, “If you go back and look at suicide bombings, the devices are getting closer to the body. The only natural progression is to go inside and that’s a real problem.”

During a recent law enforcement seminar, bomb technicians from around the world recognized the potential issue.

Detective Marion Cain went to his Police Chief at the Edmond Police Department with a unique idea.

He said, “I’d like to x-ray a body and attach a suicide bomb to it. When the shriek stopped, he said yes. This is out-of-the-box type of thinking. It’s way outside the box.  This isn’t even in the stadium.”

Detective Cain recruited the help of doctors and scientists at the OU Health Science Center. 

Dr. Isaac Rutel said, “It’s enjoyable to apply the knowledge I know for the counter terrorism field.”

A state agency provided four human cadavers for testing. 

Authorities discovered they could use a device most bomb squads already have to now screen human bodies. 

Dr. Rutel said it’s no more dangerous than a medical x-ray.

“We’ve looked at it to find it’s constant with a chest x-ray up to CT doses,” he said.

In the past, the 10-pound bomb squad x-ray “gun” was used to penetrate steel to search for hidden bombs in buildings and packages.

With a few modifications, it can be safely used on people too.

Detective Cain said, “The x-ray will penetrate the person and hopefully collect the information on this screen. Then we can enhance and manipulate it to see if anything is present at all.”

This technique is still in the infancy stages but early testing is promising. 

Law enforcers hope it will one day be a viable method to fight terrorism.

Cain said, “This is another tool in the tool box to use to our benefit.”