Bomb disposal expert: Venturing into unknown

BEIJING, June 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- This is a report from China SCIO about bomb disposal expert Zhang Baoguo:

Whenever Zhang Baoguo went on a dangerous mission, he would pretend to go on a normal business trip in order not to worry his parents.

As deputy head of the Special Police Team of the Jinan Municipal Public Security Bureau in Shandong province, the 57-year-old bomb disposal veteran knew that each mission was rolling the dice with death.

Zhang has completed hundreds of missions to clear or defuse explosive ordnance during his 22-year career, including more than 4,000 bombs and over 300,000 detonators.

He said he and his team normally dealt with two kinds of explosives: conventional explosives made by military enterprises, and the improvised explosive devices such as homemade bombs made by criminals or terrorists.

For conventional devices, his team has some clues as to how the ordnance can be defused. However, when confronted with homemade bombs, they need to quickly identify the risks and defuse the devices in the shortest time possible.

As he recounts many close calls and lucky escapes, Zhang admitted the work is fraught with danger. "Every decision made before every move can mean the difference between life and death," he said. "But for public safety, I am always willing to run a risk."

'My scars are as beautiful as medals'

Zhang was once seconds from death. On March 2, 2005, when he and his team were on a mission to dispose of old and unsafe explosives in Jinan's suburban area, an old smoke pot among the explosives leaked and suddenly caught fire and began to spread rapidly.

He quickly alerted his team members, shouting, "Run! Run!" At the same time, he dove into the fire without hesitation and kicked out the flaming pot to avoid an even bigger blast.

The spreading fire engulfed him, and he was seriously burned in his face and hands. He had two skin grafting surgeries and multiple rehabilitation therapies within around six months, leaving him with a grade-7 disability as well as two long scars.

Due to his top-notch expertise in bomb disposal as well as heroic dedications throughout his career, Zhang was honored with countless medals and awards.

"I think the scars on my body are as beautiful as those medals, as they both represent people's safety and well-being and are symbols of people's trust and faith in my job," he said.

Three days after he left the hospital, Zhang returned to his job and went on another bomb disposal mission.

Proud as a Party member

In Chinese, Zhang's first name "Baoguo" means "safeguarding the nation." Inspired by his father's dedication as a military veteran, Zhang champions heroism and, at a very young age, was resolved to become a person who safeguards the country and its people.

He was enrolled in a military academy in 1984 and became, in his words, "a proud Party member" in 1987.

When he established and headed the bomb disposal team in Jinan in 2002, Zhang had set up a rule that the one who bears the longest Party membership has the duty to confront difficulties and danger at the forefront.

"I'm the head of the team and bear the longest Party membership, so I would always take the lead on each of our missions." Zhang said that he has been following the rule for almost 20 years. "When I'm no longer on the team, anyone who bears the longest Party membership should play this vanguard and exemplary role."

With a Party standing of 34 years and throughout his 22-year career as a police officer, Zhang stayed true to his commitment as a Party member and courageously completed many important missions, including the security check and ordnance disposal procedures during the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay, the 11th National Games, the 16th Asian Games, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Qingdao.

Zhang said that he never regrets choosing to be a police officer engaged in bomb disposal, and feels proud to safeguard the nation and its people in spite of dangers and difficulties. He also said that he needs to keep learning and learn fast, so that criminals won't outwit him.

Now one of the major jobs for the veteran is to train his fellow teammates. "Hope they all can perform better tasks than me," he said.

Zhang proudly noted that his daughter goes to the People's Public Security University of China and is expected to follow his footsteps and become a police officer after graduation.

Bomb disposal expert: Venturing into unknown