Andy Smith
MIne-action specialist

What goes through the deminer's head?

These questions were put to me on a public forum.....

Q1: > Do you have an idea what deminers think when the thing goes bang ?

All of the deminer victim's I have interviewed soon after an accident have no idea what happened. They were working, then they were wondering what happened, blinking away the dust, counting the bits that were "missing" and finally checking their tobacco/wallet. This is known as EBW: eyes, balls, wallet. If I interview them a few weeks or months later they often have a comfortable bar-story that bears little relation to the facts.

In the interests of providing a more amusing if not complete answer, I just telephoned three. Their answers to the question "What went through your mind at the point of detonation" were:

1) "Er, what?"
2) "Oh shit"
3) "Here we go again"

The third man had not been in a mine accident before but had experienced other kinds of accident (and is a Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy fan - although he does not look much like a bowl of Petunias).

Q2: > The other question is, how many of us (accurate numbers please) are saved/spared by the Lord on a daily base ?

I never dare answer any request for statistical accuracy. Statistics and religion are even more dangerous. However, a "wobbly" statistical answer is that more than 50% of deminers get away with detonating AP blast mines while excavating without serious injury or permanent disability. A few of the others die quickly, many are blinded, lose fingers or hands, or have shattered faces. Some have parts of their handtools buried in thighs, arms and chest. I certainly hope that those who walk away with ringing ears thank the God they worship, but only the Afghans make a regular point of saying so.

We all stand a far greater chance of being wiped out on the road than in a minefield anyway.