This is an interesting article submitted by Dana and is a good example of why Arise is blessed to have Duty Officers always looking out for us, even between our ministry deployments. Yes, I have been aware of United Nations funded de-mining in Nepal but up until this point, this information was close hold in nature. Some of the places in which we have conducted ministry had previously been cleared of mines associated with the ten year insurgency but we always check and continue to collect information that allows us to remain safe. I’m proud of our entire team and the uniqueness of Arise!
~Carl for Arise Medical Missions (US)
Preparing for a ‘long lonely walk’
By Mario Cacciottolo
“My hands had slipped twice in two days on landmines I was defusing. By the third day I thought – that’s enough.”
Charlie Martell, 38, of Gloucestershire, is a lieutenant in the Territorial Army and formerly carried out bomb disposal while serving in the Royal Engineers, which he left in 1998.
This most dangerous of roles has been brought sharply into focus by the death of British bomb disposal expert Olaf Schmid in Afghanistan.
The walk towards an explosive device is often called “the longest walk” after the phrase was made famous during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Certainly, it is a fitting description for the task undertaken by those who risk their lives to make safe bombs and improvised explosive devices.
Lt Martell recently returned to the UK after carrying out bomb disposal and mine clearance for the UN in Nepal, and says his closest encounter with death came in south-east Angola, when he made two mistakes.
“My hands were sweaty and dirty and I was unscrewing landmines to defuse them. But I stopped after slipping twice. It wouldn’t have taken much for them to have gone bang in my hands.”
“ You do get an adrenalin rush, there’s sweat pouring off your face, the nerves are kicking in and if your hairs stand up on the back of your neck that’s your sixth sense telling you something ”
Charlie Martell, bomb disposal expert
Lt Martell said becoming a bomb disposal expert was initially a “selfish decision, because you’re thinking about your career, but it becomes more about what you can do for other people – your team, the British army, the civilians living near bombs”.
He said that one of the biggest skills required was diplomacy, being able to deal with people – civilian and military – to take command of the situation.
“Once you have command you can think about what you’re going to do.
“You do get an adrenalin rush, there’s sweat pouring off your face, the nerves are kicking in and if your hairs stand up on the back of your neck that’s your sixth sense telling you something.
“Personally I just focus on the job, I wouldn’t even think about family or friends at that time.”
He said the British army’s bomb disposal experts tended to be either members of the Royal Logistics Corps or the Royal Engineers.
And he dampened down the theory that those in bomb disposal will let off steam by binge-drinking and partying following the highs that come after a brush with a bomb.
“I think this idea has come from the film The Hurt Locker. Certainly the men I’ve worked with in the British army don’t do that, it’s a more thoughtful process.
“We de-briefed, checked and repaired equipment, and prepared to do better the next time. We certainly didn’t kick back and get drunk.”
For those who decide to undertake this most dangerous of roles, training starts as soon as they join the Army and they are often classed as ammunitions technicians. Their career is geared towards working up to the high-threat bomb disposal role.
They will start by learning about the safe handling of munitions – a “store room” role that teaches them about manoeuvring, storing and supplying conventional weapons.
Then they would complete a low-threat course. This would enable them to deal with incidents such as suspect packages at railway stations in the UK.
They would then progress on to the high-threat course, which involves dealing with hidden devices that are often booby trapped, like those encountered in Afghanistan.
The teams that deal with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are separate from those that handle other munitions such as mines, mortars and bombs.
For example, a different team would deal with an air-dropped bomb that did not detonate.
Royal Logistic Corps Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, who had made safe 64 bombs during five months in Afghanistan, died as he tried to defuse another.
The 30-year-old was a week away from seeing his family again when he was killed on Saturday in Helmand province.
In an interview with Channel 4 News, he had said his work was “extremely intense”.
He said: “That’s the nature of the job. We’re trained to an absolute high level.
“And yes, it is vital and it is mentally, emotionally challenging. Physically as well, in terms of the kit we use.”
Staff Sgt Schmid said that it was “obviously… a dangerous job” but that preparation was key to tackling explosive devices.
“We prepare ourselves in such a manner, that we can let go of that physical side and we can concentrate and focus a lot more on the job in hand at the target end.”
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/11/03 16:04:26 GMT
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