Below the Surface : The Long Walk w/ Rob Anderson

powered by Sounder


Often when we imagine someone who defuses a bomb we immediately think of movies like The Hurt Locker or Speed. As it turns out there are actually people who defuse bombs on a regular basis here in Southern California and certain areas of the state are actually hotbeds for unexploded ordnance from WWII. This week Dr. Hirsch sits down with Bomb Technician specialist, Rob Anderson and learns all about "the long walk". Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Below the Surface
Each week Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Dr. Elliot Hirsch, sits down with patients, celebrities and experts to go below the surface on topics within the field of medicine and current events.

Episode transcripts

Straw media. Did you know thatthere are actually people who diffuse dangerous explosives
every day here in southern California?This week we'll find out whether it's like
to make the long walk. I'mDr Elliot Hirsch. Welcome to below the
surface. When I think about whatit's like to diffuse a bomb, my
mind immediately goes to movies like theher locker or speed or the Rock,
just scenes of intense stress and focus, someone sweating inside the heavy explosive suit,
trying to figure out if they shouldcut the red wire or the blue
wire or the green wire. Asit turns out, though, the real
life version of this job is reallynothing like what Hollywood makes it seem.
Today, we're going to talk toa real life bomb technician, specialist,
Rob Anderson, to find out whatit's really like to make that long walk
wearing the suit. Rob. Welcometo below the surface. Thanks for having
me. My pleasure, ma'am.Would when I heard that you were a
exploring sorry, let's let me startover more time. I like that it
was. Is it? It's explosiveordinance disposal technician. Is that the right
term? Just a bomb tech,bombed technician. Yeah, the other one
sounds cool. Of I'll say.People take for your bomb and they're like
bomb, you know, and thenthey like what is a bomb tech?
Do like well, we tell youwhat we do. You know, I
maybe we just kind of it.Why would just keep rolling like this?
This is fine, okay, I'mokay with it. Believe it in makes
some more authentic. All Right,rob, so you're a bomb tech.
Yes, I am. What isa bomb tech? See A bomb tech
this. You know, we respondto calls for service anything pertaining to military
ordinance to improvise explosive devices, basicallyanything you can think I'd related to an
explosive. That's what will respond to. Well, I mean I get like
in Iraq, that'd be pretty busyor in Afghanistan, but this is actually
something that happens in southern California.Believe it or not, it does,
as far as military ordinance and stufflike that being found. You know,
southern California, especially out desert pastpalm springs, yes, General Patton's training
grounds from World War II. Huh, I know. So. Yeah,
so we get a lot of callsout there for, you know, after
a good rain storm or something likethat. You know, old ordinance from
World War II gets unearthed and weget phone calls and, believe it or
not, it's still alive. It'sstill as popped to it. Wow,
and I would imagine after sitting therefor, you know, for seventy eight
years. If if they're chemical fuses, the probably really unstable. Yeah,
what bottom are crusted over. ButI mean we don't really, we don't
mess with them. We just puta block of explosives on it and get
rid of it. But you cantell by the report from the explosive that
there was, you know, additionalexplosives inside the usually a lot of them.
As a land mines, Anti TechMines. HMM, you a lot
of those. And this is thisis just like out in the desert a
southern California. Yeah, wow.Well, yeah, we had tripped out
there about three or four years ago. It's pretty interesting, and the geologists
were out there marking for solar fieldsand stuff and they come across these pieces
of ordinance. So they give us, you know, GPS cordons that long
and we head out there and getrid of them and one of them just
happened to be a World War IIand one grand rifle. What getting I
eat the bush. Yeah, thestock was all deteriorated and, you know,
falling apart, but it was like, you know, some or a
lonely private walking off in the middleof night. said his raffle down.
Probably forgot where you put it.I bet he got a stern talking to
the next day. Yeah, right, and you found about six years later.
Seven years later, I know.So I could see the serial number
eighty on your rifles. I amI guess you imagine. So I d
you get into something like this becauseI know there's not a lot of you
guys around. Another is an UM. I've been in law enforcement for almost
nineteen years now and I've been veryfortunate to work a bunch of different areas
and I was, you know,at an assignment one day and I saw
the flyer came out. You know, hey, memos are requested for bomb
squad. Like all right, soundskind of cool. So I read up
about it, talk to some ofthe guys on the team and I'm a
gear head at heart. I'm liketaking things apart, putting them back together.
Sure, no problem solving, nogetting my hands dirty, and that's
pretty much the outline of this job. Yeah, that's kind of what I
do too, except it's do alittle bit different material. I work with
in you. Very true, verytrue, was it? Was it when
you first heard about this and youlearned what you do in the Boms Golle?
was there a small part of youthat said, Hey, you know,
I've got a family, maybe Idon't want to put myself in a
position where I'm going to get blownup? Or was this something like yeah,
it sounds really cool, I'm thego for it. You know,
when you're working control and stuff likethat, you have a lot of unknowns.
You know, every single vehicle stopyou do is an unknown. You
know, every single pedestrian stop youdo is an unknown. Every single call
you role to per se is unknown. You know, there's a lot more
risk. When you're on a specializedteam. You are, you know,
masters of your craft and that's allyou do. And when we roll up
on a scene we pretty much knowwhat we already have the most part,
and with the amount of training weget, you know, it's actually safer,
I think, because we have moreof a known versus unknown than in
patrol. So I guess that makessense. It sounds like it's a little
bit more of a controlled environment whereyou know if you stop somebody on the
highway of no idea what's going tohappen. I mean ninety percent or is
probably very predictable within you know,the ten percent of problem. At least
here you can, like you said, prep for a plan, for you
have a basic idea what's about tohappen. Yeah, and you know,
we get our permitter set. Youknow, we you know, do evacuations
if we have to start on packingour gear. I mean it's we're not
a big rush. It's not likeyou see in the movies where it's got
a timer on it with twenty secondsleft. It's like, okay, the
bus can't go little fifty miles anhour. Yeah, right, yeah,
I go bay fast. Exactly.How did you how did you start the
training with? Did you have togo to some kind of school for this
or what was that like? Yeah, them, we actually go through several
schools. The biggest, Quan isbasic palm school, which is sponsored by
the FBI, and we go througha six week course at their facility and
it's it's pretty intensive. They putyou through the ringer quite a bit.
I mean they there's no room forerror when you're in schoolhouse we call it,
and mean you're you're locked down.If you're not in the classroom,
you're studying, and that's what itis for six weeks and you fail a
test, you get one retake andif you fail to retake, they say
here's your plane ticket, whole gohome. So, but this is at
the FBI headquarters are and now it'sactually in Alabama. Okay, yeah,
I have by mine was. Hewas a green beret. I know he
did see her training somewhere out there. I wonder if it was the same
type of probably the same area more, probably at the obviously army green berets.
Yeah, definitely the same area.So, Rob I understand it's not
really like Hollywood where or you've gota ticking, ticking clock or a bus
that's going or but what was yourmost Hollywood like moment or something that's comparable
to what we see in the movies? Most Hollywood type they would be.
We got a call of a spiciouspackage in front of a police station and
they describe it to us like yeah, just this small package, black wraps
like recou tape, like okay,it's nothing, I just want to check
it out. So you know youroll up. It's in a location where
we can access at robotically. SoI put the put the suit on and
I start the long walk, knowingthis bomb suit, and we called the
long walk because you used to startfrom approximate three hundred feet out and you're
in this heavy bomb suit, youalways almost a hundred pounds, and all
your gear and it's it's a lonelylong walk because you don't have any communication
with your CEP, you know.You know you don't want anybody squalking in
your ear when you're trying to know, concentrate. So I mean you're down
there by yourself. Wow, andyou know the Hollywood movies, you seem
like, you said, the tickingtime bomb or the flashing lights or in
all the crazy widgets that, youknow, the Hollywood builders put into these
things. HMM. And I getdown there and also and I see this
wrapped package and it's got a blinkinglight on it and a wire coming off
a bit like an antenna. Littlepucker factor like I thinking somebody's watching.
You know, this is remote controland they're going to blow my ass up
right now. So I just kindof like all right, you know,
quickly, quickly, quickly as Icould. I get the X ray now
and get back and we get itdeveloped and it turned out to be nothing.
It turned out to be a bunchof kids toys randomly package together and
wrapped with tape. And you knowwe call tweaker devices. So much time
something and just building crazy shit inthe garage. Yeah, so that's a
good idea, but I mean it'sthat was like the first time I've ever
actually seeing, you know, theblinking light, all this crazy stuff coming
off them, like, wait aminute, that wasn't expecting that. Wow,
they they're smart up put a blinkinglight on this. What else they
smart enough to do? Yeah,exactly. Wow. So, I mean,
is necessarily I mean, for meto hear that. That's definitely the
moment where you're like, oh myGod, it's real now, you know,
but thankfully. But yeah, yeah, you trust your gear and you
know, I mean the department spendsa lot of money on equipment for us
and I hope it works. Hopefullynever have to find out. Yeah,
right, I mean it's you know, once a year we have a couple
conferences and they always recognize, youknow, a bomb tick that got blown
up and the bomb suit manufacturer givesthem a special plaque and everything, you
know, because the bomb suit savetheir lives and I always tell my buddy
and like that's one a word Idon't want. Yeah, would you?
Would you say that you're kind ofan adrenaline junkie? Is this? Do
do other hobbies like this they're kindof more intense, or is this just
the one outlier for you? Growingup, I've always been in a journal
and junk he I mean motorcycles,sports, you know, I played all
contact sports growing up, football,hockey, wrestling, I just continued on.
It's you know, and prior lawenforcement has actually a firefighter. Okay.
So, yeah, I did thatfor five years and when to law
enforcement and you know, it's likebuilding cars driving fast. Well, it's
that case. It kind of fitsthe profile then. Yeah, you know
skydivings. Yeah, I mean so, yeah, skydiving and like wandering around
the desert looking for explosives. Iget it. I get it. How
many people are on the team likethat? Do you your bombs quare team?
Right now we have eight and fourof us are technicians and the other
four or waiting to go to bombschool. Know, so they're in training.
Yeah, yeah, they pretty muchit's a yearlong kind of on the
job training before you even get togo to school. So by the time
you actually get to go to school, your guy, you have a pretty
good idea what you're up against.It's not like you know boo camp or
you the doors pop on the busand people are yelling to screaming at you
have no freaky sue what you gotyourself into. You have a little bit
of okay, know what to expect. So then what's what's the average day
like for the bomb squad bus?See, pretty much she show up in
the morning. We do an hourof pet is. Obviously physical fitness is
very important for the kind of workwe do and then, depending calls we
do, we assist on Swad operations. So if we have any sub emissions
plan we do that. Do alot of training. Trainings probably are our
biggest thing if we're not actually runningcalls, you know, preparing for the
next one. HMM. And whatthe amount of gear we have. I
mean it's almost the full time jobin itself just to maintain the equipment.
Well, I'm sure, and I'msure it's a lot of electronics to that's
constantly being updated and Oh yeah,you know that stuff. Things are breaking
all the time and that's just it. You know, it's it's better to
send us to a training school learnhow to repair that stuff then have to
send the equipment off to the manufactureto have them repair, because you know,
it's a three four week turnaround coastversus us just getting our hands dirty
and trouble shooting it. So whatactually happens? And so, I mean
you guys, you're training, you'remaintaining. What do you do when you
get a call? Is it?You said it's not a big rush.
You get into the van. Imean, for when you say we all
get into them, I'm picturing likeScooby Doo here, everybody kind of you
climbing the roll up on the scene. I guess I couldn't say you.
I mean not all CARLS are norush. I mean some are, depending
on where it is and what itis. But it we get a call,
we usually get a cell phone ringsand they tell us what we have.
We contact whoever's on scene and theytell us what they have and we
roll the at least minimum of twotechnicians per call. That's mandated by the
FBI, and Jo up on seeing, double check with what we have,
make sure nothing has changed and handleda call. Obviously something where there's potential
life endangerment that responses a lot moreprobah. Yeah, of course it's.
Yeah, it does that. Imean how I was just say how many
times you guys get activated every year? I want to talk specifically about some
sort of situations that you might bein. Yeah, we run anywhere from
three hundred to four UN calls peryear, and that also includes Swat operations
and stuff like that. Wa Wait, you said I said three hundred to
four hundred. Correct. So potentiallyone a day. There's actually concern over
an explosive of ice. Once aday. Yeah, wow, I had
no idea. Most people belt theyreally do. There's a lot of things
that go bump in the night thatthey don't know about. Yeah, yeah,
I've been wet. I mean itliterally for three hundred and sixty five
would be once every day, andand four hundred is these more than once
a day. But how many ofthose are actually real calls or it's just
some of these Amazon package got deliveredto the wrong place and got tossed out
into the street? We've had thathappened. You know, someone gets a
package it looks like it's been openedfrom Amazon, it doesn't have their address
on it. You know, theycall it suspicious and you know it happens
quite a bit. I mean wealso have or explosive detection canines and we
do a lot of work with thosedogs as well, you know, doing
protective sweeps and stuff like that forthe Ikes and dignitaries. Yeah, you
know, government officials are they arethe German shepherds? Are retrievers or what
kind of dogs we have? Oneis kind of a rottweiler lab mix.
Huh. WE HAVE ONE BLACK LAB, one golden retriever and then one German
shorthair pointer. That's my dog,nitro German chart hair point. Yeah,
my mom has a she has alab that, but now the dogs retired
now, but used to be ascent dog and she's all these trainings with
a dog and it was in ajolly dog, just like a working dog,
and not not to as a pet, but it was also a working
dog. But some of them,you know, we see at the airport
a time of drug sniffing dogs.Huh, and I didn't I Mayan.
I guess it makes sense that youhave them as part of the team,
but I don't think again I should. I didn't realize there were that many
calls every year. I realize youhad dogs on the team to yeah,
we're working at the Jack of alltrades. Were kind of Ketch all.
You know, something out of theordinary happens and no one really understands what
it is or how to handle it. We're kind of the yeah, you
guys can call my so so what? When you get there and you're you
know, there's obviously there's there's acertain amount of feeling out process where you're
you're looking at the package, you'relooking at you try to figure out what's
going on. And I know yougot you can't talk specifically about how to
disarm them or what your process is, but have you ever been a situation
where the device exploded before you wereready for it to explode? No,
not. I have it personally,but it has happened on our team.
Most of the devices, you know, if they have certain types of triggers
on them, you know a lotof times they miss fired and that's when
we see him. But I meanwe, our team is very tight and
everybody has an opinion on whom wehandle a call. You know, there's
not one person taking the home andsaying this is how we're going to do
it and that's the way it's goingto be. You know, whoever's the
primary check on scene, I guessyou can say, you know, I'll
say, Hey, I think weshould do x, Y and Z.
What do you guys think? Andif ever anyone else has any type of
other idea, you know they alwaysvoice it, but they say hey,
you know, it's not going tobe safe to do it that way.
How about this way? So weround table everything before we do it.
So it just, you know,increases the safety that much more more collaborative.
Definitely. Yeah, what's the what'sthe scariest situation you ever been in
as as bomb tech? You know, it's the more training you get,
the less, I would say,scarier, the calls get, because you
here's prepared for it. You know, it's like how many times if you
run a code as a doctor?Of course the first one is like,
Oh crap, you know, whatam I supposed to do? By because
a job, after a while,yeah, by the hundred one, you're
like, okay, let's do this, let's do this, let's do this.
So you do chest compressions. Youknow, you started lying, you
know, right over here, youknow. So that's kind of how it
is for us. But as faras scary, I had a call once
where it was person committed suicide ina minivan. HMM, and they used
hydride, Hydras and sulfide gas theymake, made their own okay, and
which in itself, you know,a person committing suicide, you know,
there's no big Ouen say, nobig deal, but not on common.
But what made this one interesting rightinteresting, but for us to respond was
the fact that in the window theyput a note you know, if you
touch this fan is going to blowup. HMM. So we did whatever
work we could do robotically and sinceobviously hydro sulfide gases, you know,
has this material. You know,we also have that Hasmat response with us
and we're also sort of bid hasmat text as well. So we work
well with our local has matt teams. But I was the lucky guy that
got to go down on the suit, you know, to finally clear the
minivan as much as we could.And No, the suit that we wear
is a heavy bombsuit on top ofa level at Hasmat suit. So it's
basically a trash bag with a bombsuit on top of it, bringing outpass.
Okay, you know, the suitis self is probably a hundred twenty
pounds with all the year on it, plus everything you're carrying. And I
was walking down and got to theminivan, looking around and sure I see
the body in there, but ofcourse you have to clear it. To
call it clear, you got toget through every nook and cranny. So
I'm in the trying to call acrossthe front seat with a heavy bomb suit
on, trying to get underneath it. You know, I'm crawling around to
the back, you know, withthe dead body, making sure you'd have
anything attached to him. He is. And got my job done. I
started walking back and all sudden myface masks Sucking Cup to my face.
And here's the caveat to the story. We were we had some new gear,
and this is a learning experience thatreally hits home for me because I
was the one wearing it, thenew breathing apparatus we had. Typically they
have little air alarms, HMM,and the low air alarms are mechanical.
So you know, there's no poweror anything. It's just, you know,
once the air gets low to gether audible noise. Well, this
particular piece of equipment it was abattery power of one and the battery was
dead. So I had to getthat audible alarm that my air was low
and next to you know, I'mout of air and I have but other
two hundred feet to walk. SoI kind of make the signal, you
know, I'm out of air andI'm walking back to the CEPILL pretty much
holding my breath because man by facemask is Suction Cup to my face and
I'm walking. I'm just staying calm, staying cool, and I get about
fifty feet away and all said inthe spark will start to kick in if
you're going toptic crap. And thenit got to the points where my fingertips
were getting them. And you knowthis. This this call was a lot
of learning experience that we found alot of faults in equipment, if I'm
you know, a lot of faultsin the way we operate and unfortunately,
usually this stuff shows itself in training. With this all happened happened on a
live call and we got back toI got back to the dcon area,
decontamination, and the firefighters didn't knowhow to pull my gear off because the
way it's all strapped on me.So and I couldn't do it because my
hands were numb. So I'm tryingto take my face mask off with my
hands were so now I could't evengrab the straps. Did they know that
you can breathe? Yeah, andthey were. They started panicking and then
one of my buddies, you know, through his gear on. I mean,
I've never seen a guys gear upthis quick in my life, runs
into the dconor and just starts rippingmy gear off me, just just shreds
it off me and they dragged methrough and you know, obviously I live
through it. I'm sitting here talkingto you. Wow, that was one
of those where it's like this isit, I'm going to go out.
That's intense. This sucks as abad way to go. So I mean
that's probably something, you know,where you really thanks start thinking about,
Oh crap, you know, butyou know, obviously you know, the
good thing that came out of itis we learned a lot of faults with
equipment. Yeah, a lot offaults with, you know, the way
we were handling calls, you know, equipment. You know on fire didn't
really drive with equipment that we hadand we found that fault. But so,
I mean, I guess not everythingbad, something good comes out of
it eventually. Yeah, as longas there's no permanent harm done, then
you can you can call a goodlearning experience, but certainly the way that
you want to test your equipment orstress your equipment is not like that.
Yeah, right. Yeah, werealized, well, maybe this gear was
put into service way too soon,but really little of it. Yeah,
he's a little to work. Doyou remember? Do you remember your first
call that you ever had? FirstCall I ever had was, I can't
remember where it was at this youknow, ten years ago, Hmm.
But it's a standard TPC pipe bombout in front of Somebody's house and you
know, went out there and Iof course I was most junior guy on
the team and had all these crustyold salts, you know, hovering over
me with everything I did. Whatare you doing that? Why are you
doing that? What happens if youdo that? Yeah, it's like,
h shut up, I'm trying torun this call. Let me do my
thing. I was really sure youknow what you're doing. So but I
yeah, that's the first call andyou know, went down there with the
robot and took care of the thepipe bomb. But you know, it's
nowadays. It's something like that isyou know, it's like brushing your teeth
in the morning. You've handled somany of them it's like second nature.
Of course. You know, thefirst one I was on, I was
like, Oh my God, whatthe Heck am I doing here? I
think in every profession that involves afair amount of training and time and then
ultimately some some point where you haveto perform it. Yeah, that's very
I mean I remember my first surgery, the first time I did a big
operative base on my own after residency, and it was it was something that
I hadn't done a lot of butI knew I need to do and I
mean I also remember I got wegot the job done, but it was
certainly I won't point an scisiologist lookedover and he's like how many of you
done? I said, well,do you perfectly honest to you? Not
that many. He's like yeah,looks pretty good. Keep going, like
okay, yea believe now get yourkidd to go. Yeah, you uttery
there. Make make sure that leaderstops. I think you'll be okay.
Oh Man, so it's not quitelike the movies then were. I'm the
one that really jumps to mind forme is the hurt locker. Yeah,
a lot of people see that andit's got some good points to it and
it's got some, you know,obviously Hollywood effects to its. Yeah,
it's it's entertaining. Yeah, andher locker. Then the other one to
is Arma getting when they're on thatasteroid. Oh yeah, yeah, trying
to drill the hole and drop thenew can. Yeah, yeah, exactly,
very realistic scenario. But let's takea quick break and when we come
back. We talked to rob abouthow his family feels about his high risk
career choice. How does how doesyour family feel about what you do?
Oh, you know, at firstthat they were nervous, but the more
training than more experience, I gotit, and the more they got to
know the team I work with,I'm actually a lot more comfortable, like
I'd rather have you do that than, you know, the off control and
you know just next to you know, some random dude pulls up next to
you and stopped like the shoot you. It's learning. Yeah, yeah,
but it's tough that. That's likethat's the reality that we live in now.
Yeah, it's part of the job, I guess. Yeah, it's
unfortunately has the way things are goingnowadays. Yeah, what do you do
if, just like as a hypeeglesSarah, what do you do if there's
a suspicious package and nobody knows whatit is? Is there? Can you
talk about the process to evaluate that? I know you can't talk about the
technology, but how do you guysdetermine, other than the dogs, what
something is? Well, we don'trun dogs on anything that's considered suspicious.
Oh, okay, dogs are strictlyfor like vehicle searches, stuff like that
at the sweeps. But yeah,we don't run our dogs on something that's
considered suspicious. But if we geta suspicious package, obviously we don't second
guess anyone when they say this looksjust swishes to them, because we don't
want people to be like, Oh, well, the bomb squad, it
wasn't it said it was a bigdeal. Yeah, you know, so
we had we had everything, youknow, by the book, and it
depends on there's a few factors,depending on if we can access it robotically.
We can go robotics, but ifit's an area where we can access
it with robots and we have toput the heavy bomb suit on and take
care of it manually. But ourfirst order a business is we use extra
machines and it's a lot like youuse in the hospital, except it's a
small portable system. Is it digdigital screen? That would imagine. Yep,
yeah, that's that's a fairly new, maybe fifteen twenty year innovation though.
Yeah, yeah, but we dox Ray and that way we can
see what's inside, and that's youknow, it's a huge part of our
training is x ray interpretation, justlike a doctor, I mean when you're
looking for some more of the shouldertear or something like that, if you
don't know how to interpret the xRay, you don't know what's wrong with
this person. Yeah, same thingin the botom world. You know,
x Ray a package or whatever andlook at you know, the x Ray
and see what's inside. You know, is there anything inside at all?
Could be just an empty box justsitting there. Yeah, but that there
is stuff in it, you knowwill figure you just figure out what it
is and if it has explosive potentialor it is a bomb. And you
know, we go one way ifit turns out it's just an empty box
and on the side of road,you know, you know, go off
in a different direction. Is thatso to like the technology in the process
that use the airport and the airportscanners similar. Those are a little bit
more high speed. We get basicallya black and white image, but with
the obviously computer technology nowadays, wecan do a lot of manipulation with our
computer to get the best possible pictureand sea. Yeah, if you're I
mean if you're the guy going downrange, you know you don't just sit
there, look at the extra andgo off. Books getting to me.
I'm a down everybody on scene that'sa bomb tech looks at the dext right
and we all sure. You know, if one person has a doubt,
then we reevaluate and go. Youknow, I'm find another way to handle
the situation. But you know it's, like I said, safety as paramount
with our job because, you know, like the model says, initial successor
told total failure. You know,maybe you may mistake mistakes. There's an
old expression in medicine when you're talkingabout images and x rays, especially with
orthopedicx where you say one image isno image and meaning that if you only
get one image of something, youknow that's almost it's not worthless, but
it's almost worthless. You always haveto get two or three views of the
same thing that kind of look atit differently, and I would imagine that
it's a kind of a similar processthat you guys do. It's not just
one little thing you look at andthat's that's you got to look at three
reconstruction build it up kind of avalue on a more more concrete scale than
just one little picture of it,like at the airport. Yeah, yeah,
we do the same thing, youknow. I mean if we try
and take as many angles as wecan so we have different points of view.
And you know, it's amazing howthings change at an x Ray.
Obviously you know that getting on theangle. Yeah, so, yeah,
you may the first one you lookat your like o, there's something there,
and also you see the next Angler. Oh Shit, definitely missed all
that. What are the most commonother than the unexploded military ordinance that you
mentioned before, what are the mostcommon explosive devices that you see? A
lot of pipe bombs. Pipe bombs, well, pipe bombs. Yeah,
it's that's pretty much the biggie,pipe bombs and suspicious packages and, like
I said, just pisious packages cannabe anything. It's just, you know,
there's a bag on the sidewalk that'sbeen sitting there for a couple of
days, so they call us upand be hand with but yeah, those
those three are pretty much are biggies. But easactly is a pipe bomb?
I this had his mental image inmy head, but I don't think I
really am grasping that properly. It'sa a piece of pipe that you can
buy the hardware store to end capsbuild up an explosive and it's used somehow
some sort of initiation. That's apipe bomb, all right, but that
is basically what I was thinking.Yeah, not super applicated. All kind
of stuff that you can you canget laying around. That's why I think,
yeahs make the job scary as thatyou have these little things that for
most, you know, most uses, are totally normal, but then in
your case it just explosive and thereare a lot of fears that we all
have and you know, like I'ma surfer and I do. I think
about sharks. Yeah, I meanI do. It's not something that prevents
you from getting in the water,but I think about it. You know.
Then another thing that you kind ofthink about is is explosives, and
especially back during the S and sare in the Cold War era. Nuclear
weapon is that type of thing ona much bigger scale. But then the
UNIBOMBER Oklahoma City, there's been alot of bombs kind of throughout our culture
on history, and so when youthink about pipe bombs and things like that,
the idea of a an explosion eithereither killing or seriously injuring a lot
of people, unfortunately, is somethingthat that we all kind of think about.
And so just from from my perspective, to me, that's what because
it's a common fear that a lotis have. That so makes the job
scary, is that this is avery common thing. You're dealing with this
every single day. Yeah, yeah, it's. You know, a lot
of people don't you know, theythey're understanding of explosives and explosions is what
they see on Hollywood, right,you know? I mean it's this huge
fireball and yeah, it's it's notlike that at all an explosion. The
biggest thing, the biggest danger fromexplosions is the over pressures that creates because
you know, think about you knowwhatever. Depending on what type of explosive
is used, different velocities are created. So if you have something, some
sort of military explosive that's traveling at, you know, Twentyzero feet per second
and that shock wave, it's youthat's what's doing the damage. You have
that personal pressure on your body.Sure, and you know your body's made
of water, right, and we'llprobably on the predominantly water. And what
doesn't water do? It doesn't compress. So now you're hitting your body with
all this over pressure and get anyhollow organ is basically ruptured, any solid
organ is turned into do so youknow, you may look all right on
the outside, but everything on theinside is a mess. Yeah, that's
there's a lot of different as partof our plastic surgery training we did burn
rotation and I never saw anybody whogot hit by an explicit but we saw
a lot of different types of burnsand the concept of externally looking okay but
having significant internal injury is some certainlysomething that I am fading with, I
think, as all plastic surgeons are. Yeah, specially the burns, you
know. I mean did you inhaleand if you did, how bad with
the lung. Yeah, yeah,yeah, exactly exactly. With with the
overall like team comarade. You guyshang out with each other, is it?
Is it like on the on themovies, where, you know,
everybody's kind of hanging out each other'shouses and everybody knows each other's kids and
that type of thing? Yeah,we've been together for a long time and
yeah, it's it's like that.We all have our barbecues every now and
then, our holiday parties. Youknow, I'll bring families to our,
you know, our office and havebarbecues. I mean we're all really close.
You know, all the wives talkand just so they can all keep,
you know, a tab on what'sgoing on with us. But even
I everybody. But yeah, Iknow it's a it's a huge family.
You know, the camarader is amazingon the team. Last last but not
least, question. Have you everhad a suicide bomber with a vest that
you had to disarm? And Training? Yes, in real life? No.
Now again, it's not something you'dsee here, more in the Middle
East, but not not swishing inCalifornia, hopefully. Yeah, yeah,
and training. I mean we dotons of training. Like I said,
Ay, all we're fortunate enough to, you know, be around a lot
of military, you know, Dteams as well. We do joint training
with them. So, you know, we'll do you know, we call
it cad a training where there's somethingwhere the whole you know, cut the
red wire, cut the blue wire, type of thing. We do.
Were in scenarios like that, andthat's you know, hostage bombs or,
you know, something you know,obomb in a hospital or, for example,
you know, where you have peoplethat are ambulatory, and we do
a lot of training like that.But yeah, as far as you know,
hostage bombs, yeah, outside ofoverseeg you really don't see that too
much in the US. Yeah,and that's that's about why I expect that's
that's probably a good thing. Yeah, we, like I said, we
do a lot of training on wehave a really great association. It's called
USPTA, United States bomb teach association, and they put on amazing training.
It's all hands on. I meanyou meet with different bomb text from all
over the US. Mean there's onlythree thousand of us in the US who
not real at all, not verymen at all, but you know,
we all go through the same training. We all talk about different calls,
different experiences. You know, we'reit's a really open group. You know,
we have, you know, peopleto follow background. I may not
know everything, but I know whoto call, you know. Right.
Yeah, to be honest, youdo. I have. That's it's good
to have that. I have avery similar thing with surgeries, where if
I have a situation that I've neverseen before or something I'm not sure about,
like, I've got people I cancall who've been doing it for thirty
years and who are you've seen everything. So it's always nice to have that
kind of network behind you. Yeah, that's yeah. So, rob tell
me a little more about the trainingthat you guys you are there. Are
there more like intense events where youwere you doing focus training on specific things?
Yeah, there is. US,Beata puts on a event every year
and it's called a bomb tech criticalskills challenge, and basically what it is
is, you know, it's opento any bomb tech in the United States,
Fed rule, local government, state, whoever. So long as you
hold a card from a bomb school, you're good to go. Okay,
and it's only open to a maximumthirty candidates. And I sergeant came to
me one day and he's like hey, next week or going to the bomb
tech competition. I'm kind of lookingat them like I haven't prepared for this.
Well, yes, you see whatyou're made up. Okay, okay,
let's do this. So me andmy buddy headed out there and it
was it's a week long competition thatfocuses on every skill that a bomb tech
has. I guess you could sayour masters rather it be, you know,
like we're talking about substitious packages,different types of tools and how to
solve problems, written tests. There'sthe cat a scenarire, like I told
you about, where you have todo the hand entry. There's so many
different events. It's a national andnational thing, or a state thing or
no, national. Okay. So, yeah, like top gun, remember
the movie topic? Yeah, definitely, that was a nice man. I
was more maverick. Now there yougo. Don't down the whole thing right.
Wasn't that power? But yeah,so it's a week on competition.
It's pretty intense. I mean yougo at the end of the day you're
completely exhausted and you know they don'ttell you where you stand during the competition.
You know, they don't say howyou did great on this you did
poorly on this. They just,you know, say thanks for showing up
and, you know, go tothe stage here and wait for your next
event. And we're sitting there atthe end. And then the competition,
and you know this is, youknow, the brain corps, the army,
the baby, the air force.Mean, all these amazing eod text
were there, hmm, and theseguys are like straight locked on and they
read off. The first guy,the first place, goes to you know,
I can remember standing. He's atAir Force Coodtech and then I said
yeah, second players goes to RobAnderson. I'm like, what's they just
say me, really crap. Andso we got our trophy. Were standing
there taking pictures and the president ofUSBTA walks up to us. He's like
a congratulations. He's like yeah,next month, in December, you're and
go to Washington DC for the EODcocus event and you're going to be recognized.
Oh Wow. I'm like really so? I mean I'm not one to
be in the limelighter anything. Ireally take care less about all that attention.
You know, going to the Rayburnbuilding and you know, Washington,
getting all these congressmen and stuff andhaving like this huge event just for us
was kind of very thewhelming. Yeah, to make you much interesting people there
too. Huh Oh, yeah,oh, yeah, definitely. Like I
said, it's a small community and, you know, a lot of familiar
faces and but yeah, I waskind of one of the highlights. You
know, it's like I went intothis event, you know, like,
you know, I'm going to findwhere all my faults are, I'm to
find out where I'm weak at.You know, I'm just gonna, you
know, I don't care if Icome up back thirty. I just want
to learn something from this and bringsomething back to the team. And I
ended up getting second place and Iwas like wow, O, hey,
I'm pretty good. You know thatall the good guys inn show up.
You know, you remember what waywas. It was a goose or man
who said there's that line. WHOsaid ice man said that second place awards
in the in the ladies room.So that was was. That wasn't ice
man it was. It was icemanone. It as when I just show
that movie to my ten year clockfor the alternate. Yeah, yeah,
yeah, I mean, of course, everybody who's kicking me in the ass
when I got back off second place, a second place. I do,
at least I went try. Ithat's pretty heat. It's cool. You're
will do that and it's the COT, the coop, the competitive aspect of
that. I am again there's alot about your job. I have no
idea about that. The fact thatthey have competitions for this type of thing
is really cool. Yeah, Imean like a lot of the military teams,
you know, they would have acompetition amongst their unit and they would
send the top candidate from that,from their unit, best of the best.
So I mean, like I said, all these guys were like squared
away. I was like, well, wow, there you guys either going
to go good or really bad.Well, we you know, we certainly
I had no idea that all thestuff was going on from the certainly the
frequency of the calls and just thetype of things that you were here and
with it, with the ordinance andstuff. But I feel better knowing that
somebody who's relatively local is that,maybe not the best in the country,
with the second best around wrote itin everyone else and thanks again for a
taking your time out today talk tous row this is really good and I'll
problem pix you up. Kenny.Thanks so much for listening. That's it
for today and we have a bigannouncement. Below the surface is going to
go on hiatus for now, butstarting April three at Ay Ay am on
go country, one hundred and fiveFM, we're going to begin a new
radio show called skin deep. Youcan hear me more then. Look forward
to seeing you