Andy Smith
MIne-action specialist

Training to become a deminer

Every year I am asked how to get into demining. Enquiries come from a broad range of people - from idealistic youngsters to retired civil servants. I generally explain to them that they cannot be deminers because the costs would be too high (insurance alone) and because there are plenty of locals who want hands-on jobs. I encourage some to volunteer as office support or logistics staff, fund-raisers and publicity agents. But many still really want to be a deminer.

In my day, all you had to do was be in the right place at the right time, and an element of that still applies for support staff. But in those days there was nowhere for anyone to get good preparatory training. For those who can afford it, courses providing preparatory or extended training are now in place. The Level 3 training is designed to take people to probationary field management level and could suit those who want to be useful to an established demining organisation.

But no one offers “Zero to Hero” training, because no one wants another dead hero. A Level 3 qualification does not mean that the holder knows what they are doing. At best it means that they have a good foundation on which to continue a learning curve. There are examples of recent EOD Level 3 graduates who thought they knew it all in the accident database. The courses may be good but they are only the foundation, not the safe structure that only experience can build onto that foudation.

Whatever I think, a Level 3 EOD Certificate (recommended in IMAS) is increasingly a requirement when applying for jobs. To help one recent newcomer, I checked what was available and found that EOD Level 3 training was available from some sources that might be worthwhile. Course content varies, as does duration. Most of the following agreed to my publishing their details.

DCA Humanitarian Mine Action  
A four week EOD 3 course conducted with Danish armed forces, they hold an English Language course annually and can take outsiders who meet their selection criteria. Generally you would need to have worked in a relevant area. The involvement of a working demining NGO ensures that course content is based on field realities. Price includes self catering accommodation: cost on application.
To apply for next year’s course, contact M. J. Pavey (Fred), EOD Course Leader. If Fred has left. just contact DCA.

MECHEM (Denel Land Systems)
Offer a three week Level 1 EOD course and a four week EOD 2/3 course held in RSA or other places to meet demand. They have courses near Pretoria in RSA during 2015. Flexible entry requirements exclude anyone with a criminal record, so it looks like they will take anyone who is bright and fit, but you cannot do Level 2/3 unless you start with Level 1. (If you have hands on demining experience, I think that would be negotiable.) 2015 costs are in Rand (Level 1 at 15k and Level 2/3 40k) but that excludes accommodation (which is available locally). Conducted by one of the longest lasting commercials in demining, their course curricula look okay.

To check on course timings and other details, contact their training manager: Tallies (Theo) Taljaard.

Centre de formation au déminage humanitaire, CPADD, 
A French language EOD 3 course. This is usually restricted to trainees who have already got EOD 2 but each application is considered on merit so those with relevant experience should still apply. I can’t say much about it because my French is not good enough, but it sounds okay. Cost was 2,700 Euros in 2015 (also covering food and accommodation), paid in advance.
Contact Lionel Jean, Course director of CPADD.

MAT Kosovo (PCM Group) EOD & ERW Training Establishment, formerly MAT Mondial, Kosovo,
This one will take people from IMAS EOD Level 1+2 (called the Field Operator (FO)/ EOD L2 course) to L3 and L3+, also C-IED. If you can prove relevant experience, you can bypass EOD 1+2 and be accepted on the IMAS EOD Level 3 course. They also offer training in MRE/ CL, QMS, C-IED & Search, HEAT, PSSSM/ Ammunition Management & ERW Risk Management. Although this is a dedicated English language training facility, bespoke courses in other languages can be arranged. Their training centre is residential and trainees are helped with immigration and visas so the courses should be accessible to all nationalities. They collect trainees from the airport on arrival and try to make being in Kosovo easy for those unaccustomed to international travel.
The courses have international accreditation, including those courses designed to meet career-change needs. Duration varies with FO/ EOD L2, L3 & L3+ courses averaging three intense weeks, while specialist courses such as C-IED & Search are a bit shorter. (If that sounds too short, well, it does rather depend how intense it all is and where trainees are starting from.)
The training centre is in Peja in the west of Kosovo in a suitable area for them to emphasise the practical side of training. Incidentally, I am told that if you knew this place formerly, you would not know it now. Over the past year, the footprint and its infrastructure have doubled in size. 
Recently used by UNMAS, UNOPS, ICRC, Commercial Agencies, various INGOs and those wishing to break into a career in HMA, their certification appears to be well worth having. Course fees are all-inclusive, covering training, food and accommodation. Prices on application.
Contact: Ben Remfrey, MBE, Managing Director, or for more background, write to information.
The Centre for Homeland Security, Talbot Hall, Heythrop Park, Enstone, Oxon, OX7 5UE. Tel: + 44 (0) 1608 678382  |Mobile:  +44 (0) 7825 083985 or email Gordon at . I know nothing at all about this one.

To anyone applying, good luck and stay safe.