Coming at you from my home away from home, the Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville, FL. Just a quick update…..
Still battling pneumonia a little bit. It is being resistant and they are trying to stay on top of it. I’ve had more antibiotic IV’s pumped into me than you can imagine.
A new player has joined the game……Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is a staph infection and when talked about, people call it MER-sa.
The other day when my sputum was bloody, they did a culture and it came back positive for MRSA. I’m told it CAN be serious. It can actually be really serious. It is an infection that is resistant to most antibiotics. It usually occurs to people that are in the hospital. The folks here believe they are on top of it though. So much so, they are talking about possibly sending me home today. Yay! Still don’t know for sure because they have to arrange for a lot of things, one being a home IV over the next 10 days. The latest I go home will be tomorrow but I really think it will be today.
Sad news though…my in-home nurse….my major care provider….my major backer…. you know her as “the missus” ………my wife Kathy/Kate….now has the flu. For sure she got it from me. Anyone that comes in my room has to have a mask and gown on. I am Bubonic Barney. Anyway, she has been down to visit just about every day and although she went though all the precautions, she now has the flu. She is at home recovering so please .. thoughts and prayers for her.
So that is the wrap up for today…… fever – gone. Flu (for me) – gone . Pneumonia – still there but on the run. Staph infection (MRSA) – present and a concern. Good possibility of going home today.
I guess that only leaves one thing…..UNRELATED STORY TIME.
It has been awhile so I will see if I can squeeze a two-fer in.
Distraction Devices -
First… a little background…..
Police SWAT teams often use a tool called a “distraction device” or “Flashbang”. It is sometimes erroneously called “Stun Grenade”. A distraction device or another common term is “flash bang”, is a metal canister containing a fuze (pull pin) and a cardboard tube inside a metal canister containing some chemicals that when it goes off, produces a very bright light and a very loud noise.
Much like a grenade, the lever (the long metal lever on the side) fits in the palm of your hand. You pull the pin (the round ring) and as long as you hold the lever down, it won’t go off. But the minute you let the lever go, you have approximately 1.5 seconds before it goes off. That may not seem like a lot of time but trust me, it is plenty of time to throw it where it needs to go.
The “blast” is expelled out the top and the bottom. When I say bright…. if you have a police flashlight.. you know the kind that has the equivalent of six D batteries… has a light beam that is measured in “candela”. The police flashlight has something like 30,000 candela. The flashbang emits a light that is 6-8 million candela. Think about that.
Loud? If you stand in front of a speaker at a rock concert, and they are playing, your ears are getting bombarded with about 140 decibels. A flashbang produces 175 decibels. That may not seem like much to you but trust me…it is louder than a jet engine.
Smoke – Due to the chemicals used to produce the bright light, a bad side effect is it also produces a lot of smoke. Not bad if outdoors but if in a tight, confined space, hard to see through the smoke.
So why are they used? Because a flashbang produces this loud noise and this bright light, if a person is within a couple of feet of a flashbang going off, it shuts down their hearing and their sight for about 20-30 seconds. That is a looooonnnngggg time during a SWAT raid. I have been on the receiving end of these on more than one occasion and for those old enough to remember, your sight goes like when you used to turn TV’s off a long time ago…..a white dot is in the middle of the screen and keeps getting smaller and smaller. Thats what happens to your vision. Hearing?? Totally wipes it out. Gone.
We have gone in on a SWAT raid and a guy has had a pistol in his waistband and a flashbang went off right in front of him and we were able to just remove the weapon with no problem.
It is also used to “distract” or divert their attention to that area. Say we are coming in the back door. We might throw a flashbang in the front door area so bad guys attention will be focused on that area while we come in the back.
If not used properly, they can cause some major injuries. If you pull the pin and DON”T throw? you will probably lose your hand.
Enough background….onto the story..
So one day, a guy robs a bank and a car chase ensues and bad guy can’t drive that well and wrecks his car. Foot chase ensues and he runs into a house with no one home. The Patrol officers want to go get him but he is now what is referred to as “barricaded” and since they know he has a weapon, they set up a perimeter to make sure he doesn’t escape and call out SWAT. We get there and set up our own perimeter and using a loud PA system called a “loud hailer” attempt to talk him out. He does not respond. Normally the next step would be to use tear gas as a way to get him out but #1, this isn’t his house and #2, the house is less than a block from a school and we don’t want to tear gas the kids so we make the decision to go in and get him. A “Barricaded Person” search is a very slow, methodical search. Nothing fast at all. You know he is in there and he knows you know he is in there so you use time on your side. You search one room at a time. You communicate with each other by whispering or hand signals. So while a couple of guys are searching one room, the others are covering off the other areas. Again, very slow and tedious but needs to be done this way due to the circumstances. After about an hour, we have searched the first floor of this house and now we need to go upstairs. Going upstairs is tricky by itself. It is where the good guys are most vulnerable, due to the angle of the stairs and all the open areas. You don’t just charge up the stairs, you have to plan it out.
This particular set of stairs was “L-shaped”. The stairs went up to a small landing and turned right and went up to the top floor. There were banisters all round it. The problem was we couldn’t see anything on that top landing. We needed a distraction.
I’m at the foot of the stairs covering up and tell the rest of the team what we are going to do. But first, I have to find out who has a flashbang with them. So I whisper something out like….”OK, here is what we are going to do…. we are going to throw a flashbang up to the landing and when it goes off, follow it. Now who has one?” At this time on Dallas SWAT, not every team member was issued a flashbang so i needed to know. I had one but was not in the best position to throw or “deploy” one. One of my teammates, “Ed” spoke up….”I’ve got one”
I responded….”Great. Ed, throw it up to the landing. Once it goes off, I’ll take the lead and go up the stairs covering off to the left. Kelvin, you come behind me, covering off to the right… Ed, I need you right on his ass covering off the landing. We go up as a group.” I gave the rest of the team their assignments so they would cover off the areas that needed covering and once we three made it up, we would cover the rest of the team as they came up. I made sure everyone understood what they were supposed to do and received acknowledgement from each of my team. Ok. Good. All set.
“OK. Ed, Ready?”
As my body tensed up for the bang that I knew was coming and getting ready to launch up the stairs… I heard…..”Uh-oh”…. then I heard… “Oh Shit”
My eyes left my coverage area to see the flashbang hit the railing, and begin tumbling right down the stairs ….hitting one…then another…and then another…. and land ………..next to my foot. There wasn’t a thing I could do but close my eyes as I heard a loud WHOOMPPHH.
Later, the guys tell me that they lost sight of my because I was enveloped in smoke. Other tell me that they say a wall of flame shoot up my leg. The side of my boot and my thigh holster on my left side were singed pretty well. Needless to say, the flashbang didn’t go where it was intended.
With it going off next to my foot, even though I diverted my eyes, it still jumbled me up pretty well. Everyone did a great job maintaining their cover of the open areas. I heard someone say that they were covering mine, which was good because I was having a few problems focusing. I heard our Sgt say to take my time, that we were in no hurry, which was a good thing.
After a few minutes, all my senses were back. Persistent ringing in my ear but I could hear. So I let the team know I was back, and began planning anew. I asked WHO ELSE had a flashbang, someone answered up and we went over the plan again. This time, it might have been Boo Boo, successfully threw the flashbang were it needed to go, we went up the stairs, secured that location, and continued the search of the house and finally found our bad guy hiding in one of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor and he gave up without a fight.
Later, the bad guy secured, we did a quick debrief. I was a little testy at getting stunned so I said… “Dammit Ed…..I told you to throw it up there. You couldn’t do that?” He grinned and said…”I did! Oh… you wanted it to stay?”
Hard to stay mad at a comeback like that.
UNRELATED STORY #2… or… The Last Time I Threw a Flashbang in Dallas”
We had another call-out. Guy is with his buddy and tells him he is thinking about killing himself. Buddy agrees with him! Bad Guy decides to blame it all on girlfriend so he calls her up to tell her. She asks him how he is going to do that when his pistol is at her house? He realizes her point and asks girlfriend if she could be a lamb and drop it by and she does! Friend decides he wants to leave so he and girlfriend leave the “friend”. They do make the effort and call 911 and let us know that they have a guy with a pistol threatening suicide. Patrol gets there and surrounds the place and per SOP, they call us.
We surround the place and loud hail him to no avail. We check with Patrol and they haven’t seen or heard anything inside. After awhile, we decide to go in and search the place.
Again, very slow search…. but this is just a one-bedroom apartment so it doesn’t take long. We get to the point where we have searched everything but the one bedroom. The door is open so we are able to clear the bedroom with no problem. Now all that is left is the bathroom in the bedroom and the door is closed. I’m covering the door and ask, “Who has a flashbang?” The other two guys with me, Kelvin and Steve, do not. But I do. So we reconfigure…. Steve is going to use the battering ram or “slammer” and hit the door, I am going to throw in the device while Kelvin is covering whats inside. We set up in a tight pattern around the door…. I nod at Steve… he rears back and hits the door and it flies open… before I can do anything, it immediately shuts. ”HIT IT AGAIN” Boom….door slams shut. “HIT IT AGAIN” This time, he hits it and I jam my foot in the door facing before it can shut shut, and as the device is releasing from my hand, I realize that there is no need for it. I remove my foot and the door closes. The flashbang goes off inside the bathroom and Steve and Kelvin are yelling “GO GO GO” and I’m saying “NO NO NO”……..”WE DON’T NEED TO!”
(I’ll try and not get too graphic here but it will be difficult).
It seems our suspect has indeed used the pistol that his girlfriend has brought over. He has committed suicide by placing the pistol under his chin and pulling the trigger. This caused his body to collapse on the bathroom floor. Every time the door was slammed, the door was moving about 2 feet before striking our dead guys foot and immediately slamming shut.
Once I jammed my foot in the doorframe to get the flashbang in, as I released it, I could see where it was going to land…. and it landed exactly where I thought…..right where this guys brains used to be. And it made a big mess.
Steve didn’t believe me and forced the door open and looked inside and said….”Oh.” and let the door close.
Later….the Physical Evidence Section came out to process the crime scene and before they went inside, I briefed them on what they might find. When they were done, they asked me if I wanted the flashbang back since it was re-usable. I told them they could keep it.