MIDLAND -- Thursday marks the eight-month anniversary of a tragic explosion at the Midland Police Training Facility.
Midland police Sgt. Brian Rackow was trying to dismantle a split-shot bomb, on June 24th, 2010, when it exploded in his hand. Fortunately Sgt. Rackow's injuries were not life threatening, However they were life changing. Shelby Levins takes an in depth look into his recovery and the changes it's bringing to the Midland Police Department.
In less than a flash of a bullet, Sgt. Brian Rackow's life changed forever.
"When you start thinking back on days like that, you can wear yourself out, going if I'd done this differently - if I'd slowed down going to work, if I hadn't been there at that exact time," Sgt. Rackow explained.
The Midland police officer lost his left hand, as he was trying to disarm a slip-shot bomb last summer.
But instead of dwelling on the past, the long-time officer and bomb tech is focused on the future and his recovery.
"For the most part I've put it behind me. It was an accident. All you can really do when those life changing events happen - is it's your decision how you deal with it" Sgt. Rackow explained.
Now a daily decision Rackow makes is what prosthetic devise to use.
He chooses between a grappling devise - the most basic of the three. Or this claw, which is better for more physical work. Or his bionic arm, that's driven by muscle sensitivity and simulates a real human hand. It's by far the most expensive - with a price tag of more than $70,000.
"It would be great if there was just one that could handle all those thing, but generally it's just a tool box, you just have to figure out which one would be the best," Sgt. Rackow said.
Sgt. Rackow says the grueling rehab process, not recovering from the actual explosion, as been the hardest part.
Almost completely self-taught, he continues to refine working with the different prosthesis - all while keeping his sense of humor.
"It's a great tribute to him, to his toughness, his character. Some people could just give up, just say guess I can't be a police officer any more. But Brian hsd chosen to go the other way, make the best of the situation, adapt and over come, and he's done it and I'm very proud of him," Midland Police Chief Price Robinson said.
While Rackow was the only one directly injured in the explosion, he's not the only one changed. The ripple effects from the accident will be felt throughout the department.
Chief Robinson says the bomb squad will no longer dismantle known devices like slip -shot bombs as part of training.
"Instead of accumulating a number of known devices from oil field companies and then trying to do something, trying to dismantle, say we'll take these apart and render them safe - instead of us doing that, just take them somewhere and let someone else do that," Chief Robinson said.
If he could turn back time, Sgt. Rackow says he would somehow take back the accident. But he's not living with any regrets. Because like ATF investigators ruled - it was just an accident.
"There's a lot more people that could have been hurt during that accident. So, no, I don't have regrets about that day. I'm glad it didn't turn out worse than it did," Sgt. Rackow said.
The West Texas native is also thankful for just how many loved ones he has, and how supportive the community continues to be.
"You don't realize how many friends you have until you've hit bottom, and see them come out of the woodwork to help you out," Sgt. Rackow said.
Sgt. Rackow says he hasn't come close to thanking everyone.
He's continuing to work hard to return as full-time officer, so he can serve the community the way he knows best.
"I want my life to be defined by something else. But this was a life changing accident. Well just see how the story goes from now on," Sgt. Rackow said.
Sgt. Rackow completed the official rehab, Required by worker's comp, in Chicago this month.
Chief Robinson says he expects Sgt. Rackow to return to light duty in early March.
Then eventually, the ultimate goal is to have Rackow return to full-time active duty on the bomb squad.
As for how the police department handles known devises like slip-shot bombs in the future, Chief Robinson say they will most likely be handed over to military professionals at Fort Hood or Fort Bliss.