Thursday, December 08, 2005

Spray and Wash

What do you see in the picture? Zombie? Drug addict? Insomniac? Or police recruit after a blast of pepper spray in the face and eyes?

After 12 weeks of anticipation, my class finally made it through OC spray day. All of the horror stories I heard from previous classes did not do this event justice.

After accepting a burst of spray directly in the face, we were immediately pounced upon by a class instructor delivering punches to the head with a padded glove. I could barely see out of my burning eyes but managed to block these blows. Next, the instructor attempted to take my gun from my holster. I had to hold down on the gun to prevent it from coming loose while punching with my other hand. As my face began to burn and my eyes shut completely, I was commanded to deliver 5 strikes to the face of a rubber human dummy. I then had to turn and face an attacker and identify what type of weapon he was wielding. At this point, my skin was flaming, my eyes were filled with shards of glass and I could barely breath. I had to pry my open with my left hand while aiming my gun at the attacker. Panic set in and I started losing control. I came close to quitting but knew this would require me to re-take the test so I fought through it. Finally, I commanded the attacker to drop the weapon and get down on the ground. I then approached, applied handcuffs, and radioed for assistance.

This ended the scenario but not the pain. I was lead blinded to the recovery area and planted my face in the sprinkler for about five minutes. The cool water helped numb the burning on my face but I still could not open my eyes. The spray is re-activated by water so as soon as I removed my face from the water, the degree of burning increased. The only remedy was to stand facing the breeze and just wait for the agony to subside. After 30 minutes of intense burning, I could finally crack my eyes open for a few seconds at a time. My face started to feel a bit better as the spray dried up.

Many of my classmates decided to take a shower which exacerbated the burning. One unlucky guy stood in the shower as the pepper residue washed down his body to a more sensitive area. The poor guy was screaming in agony and suffered much more than the rest of us.

I arrived home and dreaded the impending shower. The spray had dried on my skin and was mildly irritating but had to be washed off. I spent 45 minutes in the shower washing and re-washing my face and arms which caused me to relive the roasting all over again. After a dozen or so scrubbings, latherings, and rinses, the burning started to lighten up. I was lucky that only my face and arms were affected (my carpool partners had it on their chest and legs, too). It's now 6 hours after the spray and my eyes are still swollen and irritated.

I can say that today's exercise was the most physically painful thing I've ever experienced. There's no way to describe just how bad it was but imagine holding your face directly over a charcoal grill or too close to a campfire. Except that when the radiating heat becomes unbearable, you're unable to move for over 30 minutes.

Even though I had a moment of panic, there were other rectruits that went berzerk. Everyone passed the test but some guys were going crazy in the recovery area. There was uncotrollable swearing, screaming, whails of agony. As irony would have it, the smallest and most seemingly timid woman in the class was hardly affected at all by the spray. She said it felt like a mild sunburn and was fully recovered in a few minutes.

After tomorrow, we'll be three quarters of the way done with all of the fun stuff to come (more shooting, pursuit driving, and field scenarios).


At December 08, 2005 8:37 PM, Anonymous gamma said...

OH MY GOD!!! No mother should have to see her son in such a condition, you poor baby. I hope it's going to get easier from here on out. Love you.....Mom

At December 09, 2005 8:57 AM, Anonymous Ronda said...

My poor Bubba. This picture is hidious. I cannot imagine going through that. I know for a fact I would have given up. I am glad that part is over, and I am glad you did not give up.
Love ya,

At December 09, 2005 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all a cakewalk from here. You're doin' great.


At December 12, 2005 9:08 PM, Anonymous Dad said...

Sorry you had to go through that torture, but its the only way to understand what those chemicals can do. Keep in mind those sprays sometimes have no effect on weirdos who are "high". Keep up the good work. May every day be a Code 4 day. Love Ya, Dad ---- Mee too, is the taser next. Sharon

At December 14, 2005 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OC sounds like CS. Keep going. Happy Holidays, Howie and Molly

At December 18, 2005 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't even imagine how bad this stuff is. It would seem there should be some kind of chemical to stop the burn. Glad you are better now. LC & BC

At December 14, 2006 9:37 PM, Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

One word: OUCH!

At March 25, 2009 4:07 PM, Blogger kd said...

the recruit in my DH's class that had the OC travel to a more, uh, sensitive area of his body got the nickname "balls of fire."



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