EOD helps keep Tucson safe

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Blake Gonzales
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs
The 355th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight participated in demolition training hosted by the Pima Regional Bomb Squad in Tucson, Arizona, April 28, 2021.

The training allowed both parties to practice handling explosives in a safe and controlled environment. It also provided a valuable opportunity for both sides to network, share their experience and learn from each other.

“A couple of times a year, we do what we refer to as a ‘range day’ or a ‘demolition day,’” said Sgt. Jason Rockwell, Pima Regional Bomb Squad supervisor. “It gives us the opportunity to practice range procedures in regards to handling explosives, priming into them and setting them off successfully and safely.”

While Davis-Monthan’s EOD Flight and the Pima Regional Bomb Squad both deal with properly identifying, handling and disposing of explosives, their areas of expertise are slightly different based on their respective mission sets and responsibilities.

“There are some equipment and tools that we might use as public safety bomb technicians that military members don’t use as much,” Rockwell said. “Conversely, there are things in the military that we don’t see as much too, so we can offer that input and that collaboration about the tools that we use and why.”

These kinds of integrations not only help train for each side’s respective missions, but also help streamline the support process when one has to rely on the other. Specifically, these training sessions are immensely helpful when the Pima Regional Bomb Squad identifies a military munition within the Tucson community, and thus must call on Davis-Monthan’s EOD Flight Airman to support.

“We help them out when it comes to military munitions that are found,” said Airman 1st Class Noah Blakley, 355th CES EOD Flight team member. “They’ll go out, do a recon on it and see what the item is. If it’s a military munition, they immediately call us and that’s when we’re dispatched.”

The 355th Wing’s EOD must respond to these calls not only because these items are government property and must be handled by them, but also because they have the most knowledge and resources to dispose of them safely.

“We have a very baseline understanding of the ordnance that’s out there,” Rockwell said. “They have access to the data sheets on them, what makes them dangerous and how to make them safe. They’re the subject matter experts.”

The 355th CES EOD Flight primarily deals with military ordnance, but there are times when the Pima Regional Bomb Squad requests their aid for general calls.

“Interoperability is a huge thing for us, especially for me and a lot of the other new guys,” said Blakley. “When we eventually become team leaders, we already have connections here and we can work with them properly and easily.”

While both sides perform their missions, it’s important to know what to do if you encounter a possible explosive in any area of Tucson.

“Number one, don’t touch it,” Rockwell said. “Contact your nearest law enforcement agency so they can coordinate with the bomb squad. At that point, we will respond or we will get information regarding what it is, and we will then coordinate with Davis-Monthan about whether it’s something we’re going to deal with, if they’re going to come out or if it’s just something we do in coordination with each other.”

For information about the Pima Regional Bomb Squad, contact the Pima County Sheriff's Department at (520) 251-4600 or go to https://www.pimasheriff.org.