Enduring the confidence chamber is one of the toughest parts of military and police training. Fear Factor contestant Billy Cain gives the civilian perspective on entering an actual police training chamber and withstanding a room filled with CS gas.
FEAR FACTOR: What were you thinking when Joe first revealed the confidence chamber?
BILLY CAIN: I was a little shocked, but I thought I was ready for it. I was hoping that it was going to be an eating stunt. I know some of the other contestants were kind of hoping it would be the torture cell type of thing, where they put something in there with you -- ants, animals, whatever. But I was hoping for an eating thing, to be honest. I thought that would be my strong point.
FEAR FACTOR: You were maced once, tell us how that may have helped you.
BILLY CAIN: I was actually maced one time before. In college, there was this big riot party thing going on. About two feet from me, I got maced directly in the eyes. And I can say, up until today, that that was one of the worst experiences of my life. The mace hits you in the eyes and then you're like, "I can't see, I can't see." But with the CS gas you actually breathe it in. You feel it in your lungs. And you want to almost vomit.
FEAR FACTOR: Talk us through the experience.
BILLY CAIN: The room was a little larger than I thought it was going to be. I walked down to one end and the gas dropped. There was a pretty loud pop; almost an explosion. I kept trying to focus on my breathing.
FEAR FACTOR: When you heard that explosion, what was going through your head?
BILLY CAIN: As soon as I heard the explosion it was a little startling. And I'm thinking, "Okay, how long is it going to take for the gas to actually get to me?" I knew there was going to be some type of time variance between it actually releasing and when it actually hit my body. In the chamber itself I noticed that there was already a residue because my nose was already burning before the can was released.
FEAR FACTOR: How were you planning to breath while you were in the chamber?
BILLY CAIN: As the gas started to come to my body I was taking short breaths. And I was actually planning to hold my breath, but I wanted to wait a little while before I did it. That way, I wouldn't be doing it longer than I had to. I'm taking short breaths, and I'm trying to focus. I can feel it starting to burn my eyes. And burning my nostrils. So I start to hold my breath. The adrenaline's going; my heart's beating really fast. I'm worried that I can't hold my breath as long as I normally would be able to.
FEAR FACTOR: At any point did you feel like you had to take a breath?
BILLY CAIN: Up to about a minute-twenty, I felt really strong. And I made the mistake of taking a breath. It just all hits your lungs. I can't even explain the cringing feeling your body has. I wanted to just vomit right there. I started to walk forward. I was a little disoriented. My body was just in this volatile, rejecting motion. It just wants to revolt this foreign gas out of your body.
FEAR FACTOR: Sounds pretty tough.
BILLY CAIN: The pain you feel when the gas actually hits your eyes and nose is like having rubbing alcohol poured on a wound, times ten. And then it expands even more than that when it actually gets in your lungs. Then you get this panic feeling. And your body just wants to get out of there.
FEAR FACTOR: What was the worst part of being in the confidence chamber?
BILLY CAIN: The worst part of it, through the whole event, was about five seconds after I had taken my deep breath. Because that's when it settles into your body and your body's trying to push it out. It was as if somebody had poured hydrochloric acid inside my body.
FEAR FACTOR: When you're being led out, how are you feeling? Does the fresh air help?
BILLY CAIN: When you come out, they tell you to keep your arms up, because your sweat glands are very sensitive to the gas. You're disoriented, your eyes are watering and you're on the verge of throwing up. The fresh air starts to feel better. But at first, your eyes are still burning so much that you don't want to open them. But that's what you're supposed to do; open your eyes and let the air get there. But it's not your first gut reaction to open your eyes.
FEAR FACTOR: What happens in your body as you reacclimate?
BILLY CAIN: As your body starts to deal with this foreign gas your nose is running profusely. You're crying. Your mouth is watering. You want to spit everywhere. Your eyes are burning and your nose is running for a while. And it just stays with you.
FEAR FACTOR: How long did the smell of the gas stay with you?
BILLY CAIN: The smell from the gas lingered for a good five or ten minutes after you leave the area. But I would never want to smell it again.
FEAR FACTOR: Were you surprised at how the other contestants reacted to you when you exited the confidence chamber?
BILLY CAIN: I could barely see how they reacted. Everyone was like, "Good job, good job." But when I came out I heard footsteps running away from me, because of the gas. And I knew that it was pretty bad. I was still dealing with my own issues at that time.
FEAR FACTOR: Why did you want to be on Fear Factor?
BILLY CAIN: Besides the fact that I want to just kick people's a** on television, I wanted to be on Fear Factor because I do want the money a lot. I mean, I need it. Even if I didn't need it, $50,000 always helps. It's about just dominating other people and the money helps.