The long walk for Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad members Jeff Schemenauer and Dave Cadwaller was more of a trot on Wednesday, and instead of a mysterious package waiting for them at the other end, there were cold sports drinks and family members.
Schemenauer and Cadwaller made the final two miles of Douglas County’s leg of the Peace Officers Memorial Run in bomb suits. To say they ran it would be an exaggeration, but both men made it from Stephanie Way to Silver City RV Park, where Schemenauer passed the baton to the Carson City Sheriff’s Office.
The final leg of the run to the Peace Officers Memorial at the Capitol Complex in Carson City is noon today.
Schemenauer said he and Cadwaller came up with the idea a few weeks ago, but with the bombing at the Boston Marathon, it seemed timely for the squad to join the Peace Officers run.
Each suit runs 80 pounds with all the gear, according to Hazardous Device Technician Ralph Jones, who was driving the van escorting the two runners.
Jones has been with the squad for 14 years, and it’s the first time he remembers participating in the run, which honors fallen police officers.
Jones estimated the squad, which consists of four Tahoe Douglas firefighters and three Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies, responds to 4-5 calls a month throughout Western Nevada.
Douglas bomb squad personnel responded to Hawthorne last month to help investigate the explosion of a mortar round during a training exercise, killing seven Marines.
Everyone on the bomb squad has another job, Jones said. In addition to the squad, several members are on the hazardous materials team and fight fires.
In addition to responding to calls about suspicious packages, Jones said the squad does a lot of education with larger businesses and governmental entities.
“You can make anything into an explosive device,” he said. “The thing people need to do is recognize when something is out of place.”
That effort is critical to preventing a bomb from causing casualties,
“It’s hard to measure prevention,” Schemenauer said before his run.
Jones said the bomb squad predates the 1980 Harvey’s Casino bombing that brought it to national attention.
The van Jones was driving was custom built for the squad for $300,000, and is large enough to haul the squad’s bomb disposal robot. The van packs a 12 kilowatt generator to power the electronics inside, and can carry four members with their gear. The suits cost $30,000 new, but Schemenauer and Cadwaller were running in older versions.
The run started in Douglas County early Wednesday morning and by 10:30 a.m. had arrived at Riverview, where former county commissioner and sheriff’s reserve Dave Brady ran the baton the rest of the way into town.
“It’s an easy two miles,” Brady said on finishing his leg. He handed the baton off to a dozen officers of the K9 squad and the Special Weapons and Tactics team for what’s known as the “Glory Run” from just south of Waterloo to Buckeye. Three dogs ran with their handlers through town.