Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pepper spray is cruel and unusual punishment!!

To preface the misery that is pepper spray i'll briefly explain how hot pepper spray is in comparison to some common foods.  Original Tobasco sauce has an SHU (scoville heat units) of around 2140, Jalapeno peppers have and SHU of around 5000, the Ghost Chili (worlds hottest pepper) has an SHU of 855,000.  The spray that we carry in my department has an SHU of well over 2,000,000.  In order to genuinely understand the insane amount of pain you experience from pepper spray go grab a bottle of tobasco sauce and put some in your eyes and then multiply that pain by 934 if you can even comprehend that once its in your eyes...  Needless to say, being pepper sprayed was hands down the most painful and worst experiences of my entire life.  I've broken more bones than anyone i know and have ripped ligaments in my leg and torn my kneecap completely in half, and the pain from all of those injuries doesnt even begin to compare to being pepper sprayed.  Now on to my experience...

So heres how it goes...  We Had PT first thing friday morning to get our pores nice and open so they could receive the pepper spray "properly".  Then we line up outside and start going one by one...  The recruits sprayed each other too, so not only does it suck for you when you get sprayed but it sucks that you have to spray your friends and cause them so much pain...  My partner was a squad leader and the class leadership got sprayed first so his time came and we set up, the sgt handed me the can and i pointed it at his face and let it fly.  Then i led him through the course safely so he didnt trip over anything and could make it from station to station.  The course starts out with getting sprayed, then you have to open your eyes and the sgt is holding up his fingers and you have to tell him how many, then you run 10 yards to a punching station where you throw a bunch of crosses and yell "stop resisting" and "youre under arrest", then you run 25 yards to a knee spear station where you yell and knee the bag a bunch, then you run another 10 yards to the handcuffing station where you have to draw your weapon and position a "suspect" into a kneeling handcuff position and then handcuff them.  There is no time limit, but you arent allowed to run and all of your commands have to be given slowly enough for the person to be able to understand them and respond. My partner was a cop before and has been sprayed a couple of times so he did pretty well, and i walked him over to the decon station and he started sticking the hose in his eyes and washing his face with baby soap.  After a few minutes he was able to open his eyes again and i led him inside to the locker room so he could get in the shower and help relieve more of the pain and continue washing it out.  As we get into the locker room, someone in the shower is still screaming in agony.  This is not what i wanted to hear when i came in...  My fear level shot through the roof as i saw all of the guys in the shower faces beat red, eyes swollen shut, and hating life...  Then i got to take 2 other people through it before i finally got my turn each time the locker room was getting more and more contaminated with run off from the shower and people running in.

So my turn finally came, and i get in position and close my eyes and take a deep breath preparing myself for the pain that is about to come.  The other recruit says his lines that you have to say before you spray someone "you're under arrest, stop resisting", and here it comes...  Then from the decon station someone yells "WAIT!!!  WE DONT HAVE AN OPEN HOSE!!!".  So I open my eyes and want to scream, i just wanted to get it over with and i was half a second away from getting it done and i'm put on hold AGAIN!!!  Finally a hose opened up i turn back towards my fellow recruit, he says his lines again, and BAM there it is.  The waiting was finally over, and all i could think was "can i go back to waiting again please???".  The pain was instantaneous, and unlike anything i had ever experienced before.  I wanted to rip my eyes out and pour water right into my eye sockets.  Unfortunately i had to open my eyes tell my sgt he was holding up four fingers and then run through the course.  So i mustered all of that pain and turned it into rage and ran to the punching station and unleashed my fury.  The pain subsided while i was punching because i was so focused on hitting it as hard as i could so i could go on to the next station.  The command came from the instructor and i took off arm in arm with my partner.  Same thing at the knee spear station, i unleashed my rage again and got the go ahead to move to the handcuffing station.  For those that know me in real life, i have a bit of a problem with talking REALLY fast all the time.  The pain amplified my rate of speech ten fold and i had said everything i needed to say to get the "suspect" in a handcuffing position so fast that i barely understood it, so my instructors got in my face and started yelling at me to slow down.  So i took as deep of a breath as i could and told the suspect once again what to do and then proceeded to handcuff him and tell the instructors how i was going to search the suspect now that he was in custody.  The course was finally over and my partner dragged me over to the decon station...

I'll be honest with you, I did decently well with actually getting sprayed and having to perform the tasks afterwards but i was a bitch once it was finally over and it was time to decontaminate myself.  I lost control once i got to the hose.  I freak out when i'm not in control of myself, and when theres nothing i can do to stop something from happening.  Its an innate reaction when my body cant handle the stress of something.  I cant hear, i cant see, i cant breathe, i cant stop the pain, and add on top of it the fact that i have bronchitis and my chest was starting to tighten up again and making it even harder to breathe but no one would give me my inhaler, they just kept telling me i had to decon more before i was allowed to use it.  So i furiously washed my face and neck and ears and head until all of it was off, and i kept yelling for my inhaler but no one would give it to me they kept telling me to just relax and i could have it soon.  Eventually after about 5 minutes of sitting there with a hose in my face i could open my eyes again and i was allowed to go in to the much contaminated locker room.  I may have gotten it all off of the surface of my face, but it was buried deep within my pores...  I spent the next 45 minutes running back and forth from sticking my face directly into the shower head to the powerful fans that were blowing in the locker room (air flow supposedly helps, but it just made it burn worse for me...).  Eventually i got to a point where i could somewhat deal with the pain and i had someone open my locker and get my clothes out for me.  I ran out of the shower and got dressed faster than i ever have before in my life and ran out into the gym area to put my face right against one of the industrial sized factory fans which helped to relieve a bit of the burning.  My goal was to eventually make it outside into the cool spring air.  For the next 30 minutes i walked in a big circle trying desperately to be able to open my eyes again and to get the burning to stop.  After about 20 minutes of walking in circles the burning had gotten down to about a 6 on the pain scale and i was able to somewhat function again.  The rest of the day was filled with flare ups when i started to sweat again and it pumped out of my pores and back onto the surface of my skin, and when i got home and spread out all of the clothing on the front porch to air out, then once again when i got in the shower at night and realized that i'd missed cleaning out my ears and there was still a bunch of it crusted in my eyelashes and the corners of my eyes and it was just like getting sprayed again...  Its now two days later and my eyes still hurt from it.

Of all the things i learned on friday the most important one is that i will never pepper spray someone!!!  As soon as i graduate and there is a TASER class with an opening i will be attending it.  Pepper spray blows...  Hopefully i'll get a video of it from somebody soon and i'll post it up.

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