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Why you don't want to 'ride lightning'

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sean M. Crowe
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
"Taser! Taser! Taser!" said the officer, right before every muscle in my body contracted and I experienced the worst physical pain imaginable.

I would do anything humanly possible to avoid ever feeling the stun gun's voltage coursing through my body again.

Every 87th Security Forces Squadron member must complete a stun gun training course annually to carry and use a stun gun. My job as a Public Affairs photojournalist was to attend the course and learn more about their jobs as to better tell their stories. The majority of the course is familiarization and classroom-taught material, but at the end of the day, 87th SFS members can receive a voluntary exposure to the effects before moving on to the practical application.

Security Forces members carry the Taser X26, which utilizes a pressure-powered cartridge containing two copper wires with probes at the ends. Safety mandates placing the probes on the body instead of firing the probes for training purposes. The electricity passes through the body between nodes causing neuromuscular incapacitation, or a loss of voluntary muscle control.

The purpose of a stun gun is to provide police forces with a less-than-lethal option to get resisting criminals to comply or attacking criminals to submit.

The voluntary exposure offers officers insight on how it effects someone they might use it on, hopefully ensuring they only use it when absolutely necessary. I would personally never want to inflict that agony onto someone else unless need be.

Before I knew it, it was time to receive a shock. The other volunteers and I completed our waivers and made our way to the front of the auditorium, where Matthew McConnell, 87th SFS member, was waiting to plug us in and fry us out.

I regret allowing everyone else to go ahead of me because I saw each of them experience the pain, foreshadowing my looming exposure. My palms were sweating; I couldn't stop fidgeting as I stood between my two wingmen who would hold me up to prevent any injury from falling.

McConnell asked me if I wanted to know when the jolt was coming or if I wanted it to be a surprise. I chose to know, but, in retrospect I don't see it making much of a difference since the effects set in immediately.

I spent the whole day trying to put the fear and anxiety out of my mind as much as possible, but as soon as I heard the man behind the trigger shout "Taser!" three times, I tensed up and prepared for the worst.

Every muscle in my body contracted at once and I lost all control of my muscles, except for my mouth, which slipped a few disdainful words.

The electrical-current cycle only lasts six seconds, but I can assure you it's a grueling and incessant six seconds.

I felt a world of relief instantly once the power cycle had ended, even though I felt as though I endured a brutal day at the gym as I limped away with exhausted muscles.

I have been hit with a cattle prod in the past and it doesn't even hold a candle to the dual-cable stun gun. In summary, I would not advise hassling the joint base police, or any police for that matter.

The 87th SFS members go to great lengths to ensure they're properly trained. I have a newfound respect for the work they perform with pride.