A Big Explosion In Waterford For Mercyhurst's Forensic Anthropol - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

A Big Explosion In Waterford For Mercyhurst's Forensic Anthropology Course

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An explosion Tuesday in Waterford, but it was all in the name of education.
This week, students from all over the world are taking part in a unique course at Mercyhurst University.

A car explodes with a deer carcass inside, which represents a human. It's all part of the Disaster Scene Recovery, a week-long forensic anthropology course, offered by Mercyhurst University.

After the explosion, the class participants will then use GPS and sophisticated mapping technology, all part of a specific protocol, developed by forensic anthropologist, Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat.  They'll map the scene and collect evidence, all to figure out just what happened. Much like forensic anthropologist would in a mass casualty scene like a car explosion, plane crash, or even a deadly train derailment.
"The remains are scattered over a half an acre or so, so the participants have to figure out how to divide up the scene and then collect the evidence," said Dr. Dirkmaat.

Students came from all over the world to take this course.
We caught up with two police officers from Ottawa, Canada, who are taking the course to help them develop a mass casualty response plan for the Ottawa City Police Service. We also found a university student, all the way from Anchorage, Alaska, who came to take the course this week  "You really deal with it in a very scientific method, instead of just heading into a field and randomly looking at everything. We're really processing it and making sure we understand what's going on," said Petra Banks, a Senior at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

"It's really good to see how Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat applies forensic anthropology which I think is key in any disaster victim identification program. So we're sort of restoring order to the chaos that's happened here," said Sgt. Kiez with the Ottawa Police Service.

The Erie Police Bomb Squad teamed up with Mercyhurst University to do the honors of using a half pound of explosives for the class.
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