Seven members of Lee County Sheriff’s Office are part of the Southwest Florida Regional Bomb Squad. The agency serves five counties in the state’s region.
On Wednesday, WINK News got an exclusive look at bomb squad training with the LCSO squad members.
“Not many people other than the military ever get to play with explosives,” said Sgt. Fred Mazzotta, a bomb squad technician.
But for these seven members of LCSO, handling highly explosive material is just part of the job.
“This is one of our favorite parts of the job to come out here and deal with the explosives and blow things up,” said Rick Errett, assistant bomb squad commander.
This monthly training serves as a learning opportunity.
“Because a simple mistake could cost your life or someone else’s life,” said Eric Stephens, bomb squad commander.
The squad members get hands-on experience with materials that could kill.
“Because that’s what we deal with, and we get to see the functionality of each explosive and how it affects things,” Errett said.
To learn more about all that goes into handling explosives, WINK News participated in a training exercise to recover an unknown package inside a home. It’s a tedious and cautious method; add nearly 100 pounds of bomb squad equipment. It’s important to keep a level head.
“You know, firsthand just how hard it is to kind of see through that tiny little window,” Mazzotta said. “And you have to be able to decipher through all that stuff for one thing. So you have to stay focused.”
The approach to these types of situations is much different than an average first response by law enforcement.
“We’re not rushing in to put a fire out,” Stephens said. “We’re slow, methodical, and we have to basically shut down and focus on what we could face inside there.”
First, they send in a robot. Its camera scans the room for anything dangerous inside. Then, the bomb technicians take over.
An x-ray machine shows an explosive inside the box. In some real-life scenarios, they’ll throw on site.
“We stay focused, Mazzotta said. “We have a mission, and we have a plan, and we stay to that.”