By Karen Abeyasekere, 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 14, 2013
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Defenders from the 100th Security Forces Squadron experienced being on the wrong side of a Taser Feb. 11, 2013, when they undertook training to become certified in its use.
The Taser, also known as a stun gun, is an electronic control device classed as a "less-than-lethal-force" weapon, such as a baton or pepper spray. Soon, 100th SFS senior airmen to technical sergeants, will begin carrying Tasers once certified in its handling and use.
"We could use the Taser in various situations where we have a non-compliant subject, such as when someone doesn't want to get out of the car ... basically, any situation where we would have to use a baton," Staff Sgt. Jonathon Williams, 100th SFS instructor said.
In every instance when the Taser is fired, a full report will be conducted just as if someone fired their M-4 assault rifle or M-9 pistol. The information will be put on a stand-alone computer, and can then be utilized for a court martial or other legal requirements.
"Any situation where we'd have to apprehend a subject that's (resisting), we can use the Taser - as long as it's a viable force option," the Visalia, Calif., native said. "We have to treat all Taser deployments just like a weapons discharge."
Each Taser cartridge contains anti-fellon identification, also known as AFIDs. These AFIDS retain certain information, which can be used as evidence if necessary.
Although the stun guns shoot 50,000 volts across the body, it's the amps that count. At 0.0036 amps, the Taser has less than approximately one-twelfth the amps of a Christmas tree bulb - but that's all the Taser needs to be effective.
According to Williams, the Taser fires two small dart-like electrodes, which stay connected to the main unit by conductive wire as they are propelled by small compressed nitrogen charges. The Taser incapacitates a person's neuromuscular system. Electrodes interrupt the brain's ability to control the muscles in the body. This, in turn, causes immediate and unavoidable incapacitation. When the flow of electricity stops, the subject immediately regains control of his or her body.
As a new means of force for the 100th SFS, this training is vital because certified individuals must train to a standard in order to meet legal requirements.
"It's just like any baton training - it gives us another force option tool to be able to handle subjects and protect ourselves and the base populace," Williams said.
During training, Airmen were connected to a Taser by alligator clips, which were then connected to the training cartridge. This allowed Airmen to feel the effect of the electrical device, but without the steel electrodes being shot into their bodies.
As it was their turn, some stood, supported on each side by a fellow 100th SFS Airman, others laid on mats on the floor. All visibly felt the pain ...
"It's used for pain compliance," Williams said. "It's just like if I were to put somebody into an arm bar, trying to put handcuffs on or hit a pressure point, it's the same thing - you're trying to achieve pain compliance. If they're trying to get up and I want them to stay on the ground, I just 'drive-stun' them right in the back of the thigh."
Drive-stun refers to when the Taser is held against the target without firing the projectiles, and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the person.
"I like to know what I'm using; you don't really know the full capabilities of something until you actually experience it," said Senior Airman Sam Perez, from Plainfield, Conn., one of the Airmen who received the electric shock treatment during the training.
"The only way I can explain the pain is I completely lost all control of my muscles; it felt like a constant flow of lava through my veins, just making my body tense up," Perez said.
The Taser will be a good additional deterrent 100th SFS Airmen will be able to use, should there ever be a need.
"It will also be a better means of secondary force," he said. "With a baton, you can break a bone (or worse). With this, there is far less risk of killing somebody or causing them permanent injury. You Taser them, they hit the ground and that's it - bumps, bruise, scrapes, and it's done."
As 100th Airmen begin implementing use of the Taser, training is vital in order to effectively carry and employ the weapon.
"To be effectively educated on what you're using means you're not just a 'dumb gun' - you're an educated law enforcement officer," said Perez.