RAF bomb disposal expert Sgt George Rice (right) shows Regiment Lance Corporal Jelani Frost (centre) and a firefighter how to wire up a detonator. *Photo supplied
RAF bomb disposal expert Sgt George Rice (right) shows Regiment Lance Corporal Jelani Frost (centre) and a firefighter how to wire up a detonator. *Photo supplied

UK armed forces experts have been drafted into Bermuda to help train soldiers, police and firefighters in how to deal with unexploded bombs.

And today Governor George Fergusson and Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley watched the three-strong Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team put volunteers through their paces on a tough two week course which started on Monday at Warwick Camp.

Regiment Lance Corporal Jelani Frost, 26, from Sandys, said: “I have learned a lot – it’s a huge amount of learning, but it’s been really interesting.”

PC Darren Mercano added: “It’s a great course – it’s all about detonating certain kinds of explosives and how to disarm them. If we’re ever presented with a problem like that, this kind of training is definitely an asset.”

He added: “It’s good working with the Regiment and the Fire Service – it’s a great experience.”

The UK Defence EOD, Munitions and Search Regiment team includes Sergeant George Rice and Chief Technician Neil Dinwoodie from the RAF and Royal Engineer Warrant Officer II Kim Slaughter, who was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for safely disabling two 500kg German World War II bombs simultaneously in 2007.

Firefighter Sergeant Deroy Somner said: “I have done the Regiment, but I haven’t done EOD before. We’ve learned quite a bit. They have been teaching us how to identify different kinds of explosives which might have to be safely exploded and teaching us the different things to use to do explosions.”

He added: “It’s another useful skill – I’m used to putting fires out, not blowing things up.”

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Martin Weekes said that EOD work had been the responsibility of the police since the US Navy pulled out of Bermuda in the mid-1990s.

He added: “There are so many other things we need to do and we have had problems getting kit and explosives, especially since 9/11. Working with the Regiment makes it easier to get explosives.

“And the bulk of our work is military ordnance disposal, so the military should be involved. The police will still be first responders, but having extra guys on call is a great help. This course is about having a basic idea of what to do if they come across something which might be explosive – and sharing the load is a great boost for Bermuda.”

Regiment Staff Officer Major Joe Carnegie said good links with the UK military meant the Regiment could acquire the equipment needed for realistic training faster than the police.

He added that the UK Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, who visited the Regiment earlier this year, took a personal hand in having the UK team seconded to the island.

Maj. Carnegie added: “This was a need we identified about two years ago – the guys are really enthusiastic and want to take a role that helps Bermuda.”

And he said: “Joint working like this is the way ahead and hopefully there will be more opportunities to help the police and the other services. All of us working together offers resilience and a chance to help the island as well.”

Mr Fergusson said: “These skills need to be in place on the island because of the discovery of legacy explosives in Bermuda. It’s good to see the Regiment, police and fire service come together on something like this and get specialist support from the British Army and Royal Air Force.”

Mr Dunkley – who detonated a simulated suspect device in a controlled explosion during his visit - said: “We have limited resources in Bermuda and we need to make sure they are as effective as possible. Cross-training and working together is extremely important.

“It breeds better morale within the organisations taking part - it’s team-building and we need to continue to do that in Bermuda.”

A Regiment career offers recruits opportunities to travel, acquire skills useful in civilian life, test themselves to their limits and serve Bermuda, while having fun and earning competitive rates of pay, as well as a bounty for new volunteers. For more information, call 238-1045 or visit www.bermudaregiment.bm .