Bomb-sniffing dog’s whiff prompts evacuation of the NSS Show floor

Saturday, November 1, 2003

WASHINGTON - A bomb scare on the last day of the National Summit on Security Show prompted Washington Convention Center officials to evacuate the building, sending exhibitors and attendees to the streets.

The evacuation happened at around 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 after a bomb-sniffing dog in an adjacent exhibition hall thought it picked up the scent of a suspicious substance. Officials at the convention center called in the Metropolitan Police Department and bomb squad to investigate.

According to Tony Robinson, director of public affairs for the Washington Convention Center, the dog had been sniffing military vehicles that were being brought into the convention center for the Association of the U.S. Army trade show, an event scheduled to begin Oct. 6 and expected to draw 20,000 people.

Though it turned out to be a false reading, “the good news is the dog thought it caught something,” said Robinson.

Naional Summit on Security Show attendees and exhibitors were told they could return to the building about half an hour after the incident first happened. Once everyone returned inside, the show had about two hours remaining before it ended at 3 p.m.

Robinson did not have details on why the convention center used an audible alarm to evacuate the building but not its public address system to tell people to leave the building, except to say it was protocol.

Both the alarm and intercom of the same system were used on the first day of the National Summit on Security show to inform people that an alarm that was sounding was false and to ignore the alarm.