Fire/EMS Response to Suicide Bombing Events

Suicide bombings have proven to be one of the most effective ways to successfully penetrate a target and create injuries and havoc. A suicide bomber is a very difficult threat to counter.

  • Men, women and older children have been suicide bombers.

  • Targets have included buses, clubs, restaurants, police checkpoints and other public locations where there are large groups of people, "soft targets".

  • Devices in the Middle East have included belts, vests, jackets, backpacks, suitcases, shoes and even a guitar case. The device typically will consist of 10 to 30 pounds of explosive that can be easily hidden in clothing or other packaging systems.

  • A few bombers have been killed or interdicted by police/military forces, some have been identified by citizens, but most use the element of surprise where the detonation is the first and only indication of an attack.

  • Bombers will add nails, bolts, ball bearings and other devices to the explosives.

  • Hazardous chemicals and pesticides have also been added to the explosive devices.

  • Rat poisons containing an anticoagulant that prevents blood clotting has also been used. It causes excessive bleeding.

  • Bombers have also been infected with diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis thus exposing the victims.

  • Ambulances have been used to transport bombers and devices.

  • Bombers have started using an armed assault to gain access into "hardened targets" before detonating.


Please follow local guidelines and procedures. This article is for informational purposes only.

Pre-Detonation Response

Pre-detonation response will take place before there is an explosion. If there is a report of a possible suicide bomber very little time will be available for police intervention if the suspect is indeed a homicide bomber, especially when they are possibly moving towards their target.

  • Call takers/dispatchers must get as much information as possible. Every effort should be made to keep the callers on the line during the response. Extreme specificity should be obtained as to the direct knowledge of the caller as to why the person is suspected of being a possible bomber.

  • All responders (fire, EMS, law enforcement) should approach the location without lights and sirens. This avoids alerting the suspect, and allows officers to choose the best approach to the suspect.

  • Vehicles should be parked out of suspect