Big guns, armored vehicles, abandoned buildings and explosions. Got your attention yet?
As a man, its basically written in my DNA to drool over such things. The very idea of anything
“tactical” is permanently carved into the “cool” category of every man’s book of interests. We all day dream of such things, wondering what it would be like to chuck grenades, fire machine guns and run over cars with a tank.
While the majority of us are content living out these fantasies vicariously through our movies, TV shows and video games, there’s a small percentage of the population that have decided they aren’t going to sit back and let everyone else have all the fun. Ladies and gentlemen, meet…the Northwest Regional SWAT Team.
Before we get into the fun stuff, I think its important to touch on a serious note first. We can all sit around and joke around about how fun and cool it is to run around blowing stuff up and shooting at things, but in the real world, its not all fun and games. In fact, its 99.9% not fun and games. Don’t get me wrong, these men and women absolutely love their jobs, but they also selflessly put their lives on the line every single time they’re called into action. The drug busts, raids and shootouts we see on the movies…those are often the realities they experience in their line of duty. There’s no rewind, pause or restart in their game.
And that’s exactly why training sessions, such as today, are so important. Today, the Northwest Regional SWAT team’s Explosive Breach Team had the opportunity to put some of their training to the test in one of Merrilville’s iconic landmarks, the old Fannie May Candies store. When the team found out that the store was scheduled for demolition to make way for a new building, they requested, and were granted permission, to use the building before it was turned to rubble. Sweet dreams, Fannie May.
A typical training day for the SWAT team consists of running entrance and room clearing drills. While these drills are impressive to watch on their own, it turned out that today wasn’t your average training day. With access to a location that provided such unique, real-life scenarios simulation, the Northwest Regional SWAT team decided that they would take this opportunity to their advantage and test out some of the fun stuff. That’s right, you guessed it…explosives.
Now when we say explosives, we aren’t talking “city block leveling, earth shattering” explosions. Instead, the SWAT team is much more precise, controlled and exact. Their purpose, typically, is simply use just enough of a charge to either gain entry via a sealed door or window, or to punch a small hole through a wall, all the while keeping in mind that innocent civilians could be at risk on the other side. This is another reason why training of this magnitude is so important. Testing these types of blasts on a multitude of different doors, windows and walls, gives them a better understanding of what type of collateral damage might occur in these situations, keeping the heat on the bad guys, and off the good guys.
Out of both respect and confidentiality for their training methods and execution techniques, the fine details of the operations will be kept rather vague. None the less, we still get to show you those big guns…and big explosions.
Below, the team places their first charge of the day. The goal is to test a new type of explosive and see if they’re able to punch a small hole through the exterior wall of the building. Instead of simply placing the charge, stepping back, blowing it and taking a look, they run the simulation as if it were a real scenario. They do the same with every drill they run, which helps double up on their training.
Here, we get a demonstration of the purpose of blasting a hole into the side of the building. By punching a hole, this will give an officer a new vantage point into a situation that may not have originally provided any line of sight to the bad guy on the other side. This can be crucial in a standoff situation that turns south. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite make it through. Another prime example that training pays off.
Here’s a look at a window entry technique…
The next blast was to be on the front glass door of the building. After placement of the charge, I was able to run inside with this strapping young lad below and hide behind the shield, placing the camera over the top as the explosion was detonated. Talk about being in the heart of the action!
Back outside for another round!
For the last charge of the day, the team’s mission was to gain entry through a steel door on the back side of the building. For a door of this size, they used a stack that contained three separate charges, all accompanied by water packs. When the charges detonate, they propel the water forward, multiplying the force of the explosion. Pretty impressive stuff! You think they agree? 🙂
Anyways, don’t just take my word for it, check out the video, below, to see this one in action!
(Big thanks to Anastasios Kratimenos — aka Taso — for putting together this quick video edit!)
Spending only a few hours with these guys has been a truly humbling experience. To think that they put themselves in the face of danger every day to help keep us safe is absolutely incredible. This goes for the Regional SWAT team, all other SWAT teams, Police, Fire, Military, and everyone involved in the fight to keep our lives safe. Hats off to you all.