EOD Bomb Squad Visits LHS STEAM Class
By Vanditha Vemparala, Student intern
“This is the best job you can do in the police by far,” Officer Mortensen said. “We get to blow stuff up. It doesn’t get any cooler than that, right?”
On April 3rd, the San Joaquin County Sheriff Department’s EOD Team (aka Bomb Squad) came to LHS to show students their cool gadgets, including the robot they use to disarm bombs and 3 different drones.
Students often think of engineers or computer programmers as a typical STEM profession. This presentation allows students to see that there is a very wide range of STEM careers that they may have never heard of. The bomb squad provided a unique example of a possible STEM profession students could pursue.
“It is funny,” Sergeant Ward said, “Because one of the first comments we get is, ‘Hey do you cut the red wire or the blue wire?’”
A lot of people have a misunderstanding about what the EOD team actually does. What the public knows is a small piece of the truth that is shown on television.
Presentations like these allow students a glimpse at STEM careers inspiring students and motivating them to pursue options that can be achieved without going to college.
Megan Smith, the STEAM 101 teacher at LHS, thought the best way to introduce students to STEM careers was to actually have real STEM professionals come in and meet with students and share their experiences.
“I plan to track student responses to these presentations, and I hope to hear from my students in the future about the pathway they ended up taking in STEM,” Smith said.
As he explained the connection to working at this job and learning, Ward said, “This is one job where your education never stops.”
Ward explained that to join the team, applicants go through a physical agility test where they have a bomb suit on and have to carry 10-20 pounds worth of equipment (a total of around 100 lb.) up to the 5th floor. Applicants also go through a dexterity test where you have to memorize a pattern and put it together in the dark.
With math, they need to find out how much safe area they need to keep people away when disarming an explosive device.
“The closer you are, the more dangerous it is,” Ward said. “I can tell you for a fact that I have been too close a couple of times because my math was off. Which is why in my right ear I am partially deaf.”
The motto of the unit is: Initial Success or Total Failure.
“We either do it right the first time or you are not going to get it right at all,” said Ward. “The shockwave that is put out by the bomb has a certain PSI that can hurt you or even kill you.”
However, with newer technologies their job becomes a little safer.
“We have drones and they are godsend,” said Ward. “We can send one up to
overwatch while doing an entry.”
To wrap up his presentation, Ward encouraged the students to learn how to learn.
“It’s so much easier to learn to study when you’re younger,” said Ward. “You guys have everything at your fingertips. Use it to the best of your ability and keep on putting in hard work.”