Birmingham, Ala. – An explosive ordnance disposal soldier removed a live smoke grenade from a man’s leg in an ambulance outside of the University of Alabama Hospital on Oct. 11.
Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink from the 789th EOD Company, based at Fort Benning, Georgia, received a call from the Birmingham Police Department’s bomb squad around 1 a.m.
The police sought Mensink’s advice to determine what kind of explosive item was stuck in the man’s leg.
“From the initial X-ray, it looked like a 40mm grenade,” said Mensink, a 27-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran from Seale, Alabama.
Explosive was a military round
Once the police discovered that the explosive was a military round, Mensink and his EOD team were called to support a team that included the ATF; the FBI; the Alabama State Bureau of Investigations; and the police departments of Birmingham and Jasper, Alabama.
Escorted by Alabama state troopers from the Georgia-Alabama state line, the team left Fort Benning at 4:15 a.m. and arrived at the hospital two hours later.
The man was isolated inside the ambulance behind barricades more than 30 feet from the hospital with two paramedics who volunteered to stay with him.
On his first trip into the ambulance, Mensink discovered that the grenade was lodged so deeply in the man’s thigh that it exposed his femoral artery.
Mensink returned to the ambulance with a doctor who volunteered to make an incision in the man’s leg, while a paramedic stood by with tourniquet in case the man’s artery was damaged. Another paramedic monitored his vital signs.
Mensink then carefully removed the grenade from his leg. Paramedics rushed the man into the hospital. Officials said the man had no permanent damage.
Priming charge could have been fatal
The explosive turned out to be an M713 red-smoke grenade.
The priming charge on the smoke grenade could have been fatal if it had detonated, according to Mensink
The man told authorities that the grenade activated and fired into his thigh while he was dismantling it.
He initially sought treatment at the Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper, and later was taken to the hospital in Birmingham, a Level 1 trauma center.
In addition to Mensink, the 789th EOD Company Team consisted of Army Sgt. Johnny Lowthorpe from Columbus, Georgia, and Army Spc. Brandon Fair from Daytona Beach, Florida. The team was accompanied by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyron Mathews from Royal, Florida, senior EOD officer.
The EOD team was part of the 789th EOD Company, 184th EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group, 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command.