Editor Note: This story is graphic and may be difficult for some people to read. It also contains graphic images.
Brian Rackow lost his left hand in an explosion during a training event. Thankfully, he survived, and was able to join us to tell his story, which can be which can be found here.
The entire reason we launched LET Unity was to give a voice to officers like Brian, who have never been able to tell their stories. It’s a tragic story – but also one filled with hope. With lessons. And with a dose of reality that America needs.
Proceeds from LET Unity memberships go directly back into telling the stories of warriors like Brian. We hope you’ll consider signing up. The mainstream media isn’t giving them a platform. Social media is censoring them. Help us to help them.
Here is his story.
Midland, Texas- I’ve been with Midland police department for a little over 22 years. I’m a lieutenant right now. I run the evening and night shift on patrol and I still run the bomb squad.
I did two years in San Antonio before I moved to Midland.
I had a real good career overall. Great place to work. Had a chance to work crime prevention. Did recruiting, promoted to sergeant, did a little bit time on SWAT. Got some of that time under my belt.
We started up the bomb squad. I got a chance to take over the bomb squad and run it. And that’s what’s been my one of my leading passions at the department was the bomb squad. I was then promoted to lieutenant.
What was your worst day?
24th of June, 2010 was a training day for us. We had oil field explosives that were turned over to us for disposal and we had been working a project on getting rid of all of it. I got to work early, blessedly, ahead of the rest of the team by about 30 minutes.
I got things set up. I was waiting for everybody to start showing up for their assignments, started working on removing some explosives out of their casings, some of the oilfield explosives.
And at one point in time, I got down the last one that I needed to work on and just quit paying attention. I got distracted or it could have been something inside it that we didn’t know about.
But I cut into it and caused it to explode.
What got me through right there, first and foremost, for what went wrong that day? What lined up and went right for me what went my way that day?
We had three trauma trained officers that were on the pistol deck, 100 yards away.
I was in a building, in our shop when I was doing that. They were immediately over there taking care of the wounds that I received.
They got out the trauma kits that were stationed at the Department, or at the range, and took care of that.
The other thing that went well for me that day? Our fire department was having training. They were at their main office. The building lost power, for whatever reason, they couldn’t get a generator started up to keep the building going.
They had to come out to their training area.
So, just as they were pulling in their gate, maybe a quarter mile away, was when the call came out that I had my injury.
So, the fire department was immediately right there. They got me to the hospital real quick. They got me evaluated. My wife’s a nurse. She came in, she made the decision to have me moved to Lubbock, which is a higher trauma-trained hospital. I moved up there, spent just about seven days in the hospital before I checked myself out, or, got permission to check myself out.
And you know really what made me get through all of this and crawl through it was a support system.
There were a lot of people that put me back together again.
From what I understand, what went through my leg, missed the arteries. It got some of the nerves. There’s, you know, there’s some dead pain in the leg.
What happened in the (right) arm with that, I think everything missed. This was the major spot because that was what was holding the explosive when it went off?
It took a year for me to finally get cleared to go back to work. I still had to do about a year’s worth of rehab.
Rehab for me was getting out to the range.
Once again, one of the things I was blessed with was the fact that the department said:
“If you can qualify at what you did before, you can come back.”
Didn’t really look at the list of everything I was qualified to do until I realized how much work it was going to take. But we took the time and once again, a lot of people put the effort into, relearn to shoot, relearn to drive, or I should say, pursuit driving.
All my defensive tactics qualifications had to be redone, made sure that I could do all those things.
So, you know, it was a lot of work just to get back to that point where I finally said:
“OK. Now I’ll go to rehab and do the qualification for rehab.”
And I had a lot of people that wouldn’t let me fail.
In today’s society, it seems like there are officers that are getting injured in the line of duty and their departments are turning away from them. Rackow’s did the right thing by him?
Yes, they did. Very much. You know, when you hear some of the stories, a good friend of mine that lives in San Antonio told me I would’ve probably been medically retired by the time I hit the hospital. You know, the department would have already signed off on everything.
Rackow has a prosthetic hand and is an advocate for them. How have they helped and how have they hindered?
You know it’s the hinderance of it is maybe some fine motor skills. I’m right-handed, so the left hand’s really a support hand for me. So, working through my issues, as long as I can hold onto something with the left hand, most of my manipulations were with the right, you know, we thought handcuffing was going to be a problem. Most of time it is not an issue.
The shooting, this last chance I had, I tried to qualify one handed to see if I could. Couldn’t do it. I had to go back to using a support to finish shooting, get my qualifications in.
Everything’s a work around and everything’s finding that if something doesn’t work, you’ve got to look for that Plan B. Plan B doesn’t work, work for plan C and just keep working around it. Have that determination not to quit.
Once again, that support system that I had, they worked very diligently on “can this work?”
And you know, part of their entertainment value was just seeing what we could get away with and what we couldn’t get away with.
Any advice for officers going through something similar?
Once again, I learned from other injured officers on me getting back up and getting back up to speed. My thing that I would tell most officers would be that the information’s out there if the department’s willing and you’re willing to do it. It’s workable.
You can take this thing and get past these injuries and get back to work. I firmly believe that you ought to be given that chance. Nobody wants to be taken out of the game.
And when you’re sidelined like this it’s it’s vitally important for that emotional and mental stability to have that chance to walk away on your own terms and not be sidelined. That was my big concern was I would have that opportunity to walk away when I was ready to walk away, not because something sidelined me.
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