Air Force and Civilian EOD train together to save lives

By Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm 21st Space Wing Public Affairs

The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal shop hosted the 140th Wing CES EOD out of Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., the 302nd Airlift Wing CES EOD at Peterson AFB, Colo., and the El Paso County bomb squad for an advanced maintenance course held here August 15-19.

The 21st EOD leadership tries to arrange this training for their Airman every two to three years to make sure they are fully capable of performing any trouble shooting that might be necessary.

“Within the past year we’ve been working with the local police department more,” said Master Sgt. Wason Leverton, 21st CES EOD acting flight chief. “We do a lot of training with them any way on ordnances. We’ll help train their technicians, part of that is bringing them in for this course.”

Leverton explains how with the deployment tempo and every day job, it is possible to lose this particular skill if it’s not being used constantly, hence it being so important to the career field.

Each attending group brought their own robots with them to work on in the class. All the groups have the same style of robot, the Northrop Grumman Remotec’s ANDROS F6A EOD robot. The Northrop describes the F6A as “the most versatile, heavy-duty robot on the market and the first choice of first responders the world over.” According to its fact sheet the robot weighs 485 pounds, has four cameras, a manipulator arm capable of lifting 25 pounds at full extension, and can even climb stairs.

“Every 50 hours of use they have to be broken all the way down,” said Leverton. “We go through everything and make sure all the wiring is tight and nothing has rattled around in there, lubricate and put it all back together so they can keep on working properly. If there’s no robot, then it’s a guy in a bomb suit walking into a possible situation.”

“The Colorado Springs Bomb Squad doesn’t usually get this kind of maintenance course because it’s a lot of money, so we invite them to piggyback with us,” said Leverton. “This has created a better working relationship, they’ve included us a lot more in their own training.”

Members of the 21st EOD have attended various classes held for the local police department to train officers in ordnance recognition in order to decrease the chances of false alarms.

“We work with them on downtown calls as well, it helps our guys get some training in how they do their operations,” said Leverton. “It works out really well. All they’ve got are a few guys, even in middle of training if they get a call they are running out here, they’re kind of tapped.”

Master Sgt. Kenneth Lewis the 21st EOD flight section chief, went on to say that this is a small community. No one quite understands the stress of being EOD except EOD, so classes like this increase ties with their civilian counterparts. Allowing them to be part of the community.