CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Service members battled through burning pain while fighting and disarming simulated suspects during the OC Spray Performance Evaluation Course at Camp Hansen, Aug. 27.
After being exposed to OC, or oleoresin capsicum, each student demonstrated mastery of baton and non-lethal disarmament techniques by subduing and safely striking their way through a circuit of opponents.
The simulated suspects held large blue striking pads to protect against sharp baton blows delivered by students spurred on by the excruciating sting of the OC.
The OC course is one part of the Non-Lethal Weapons Instructor Course, which is offered to service members from all branches on Okinawa only once a year.
“The main purpose of this course is to provide new instructors to all the services,” said Air Force Tech Sgt. Jeffery D. Presley, a non-lethal weapons instructor with the 343rd Security Forces Squadron, 37th Training Wing. “That way, they have a non-lethal platform to use.”
The course has three different levels that expose the students to OC spray. For Level 3, OC is sprayed on the ground around the students; for Level 2, OC is put on a piece of cloth and wiped across their eyes; and for Level 1, the students get sprayed with OC for one second before running through the course. To become a non-lethal weapons instructor, the students must run through the Level 1 OC course.
The students are sprayed with OC to experience the effects of exposure while dealing with a suspect, according to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Guadalupe A. Gonzalez, a student in the course and a military policeman with Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa Security.
“The biggest thing as a first responder is fear,” said Gonzalez, from Los Angeles, California. “You’re going to have it, but if you already know what to do, it helps (you) to react in the right way as quickly as possible.”
The students practice every station of the course multiple times to become familiar with how to properly disarm a suspect, according to Presley, from Palestine, Texas. They run through the course repeatedly until they are confident that they will be able to complete the course while fighting the pain of the OC spray.
“This course is much more in depth than any other course I’ve ever been through,” said Army Sgt. Adeola J. Folami, from Hardeeville, South Carolina, and a student from the 10th Regional Support Group. “It helps us to learn everything in such a way that we will be able to instruct the next class of non-lethal weapons instructors.”