Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Uncommon risk management

Bomb disposal by hand is extraordinarily high risk. Not only are the bombs meant to be lethal, they are unpredictable because of where they have fallen, the damage they have sustained, the environment they may be in and the unfamiliar techniques by which they may have been constructed.

One of the greatest of all bomb disposal experts , John Bridge, explained how he approached the challenge:

" The more you know about a situation and plan to overcome it, the better. When I had a difficult job,I always worked out a solution the night before,before I went to sleep. When it came to the crunch...,I knew every move and the sequence in which to do it. So I felt no hesitation when it came to it.It's not foolhardiness. You've got to have the best chances of survival."

This was the man who, supported by experienced divers and his team, went down 40 feet into Messina harbour 27 times over a three day period in order to disable over 207 depth charges which had been laid to make the harbour unusable . For this he was awarded the George Cross , later he received the George medal and bar for further exploits. He died in 2006 aged 91. His approach is similar to that of Catherine Destivelle before climbing solo on the North face of the Eiger.Professionalism,planning and attention to detail is the key to managing extraordinary risks.

The Story of John Bridge is taken from Gordon Brown's book"Wartime Courage" which is being serialised in the Daily Telegraph.

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