News: Marines on Okinawa learn to survive downed aircraft
Story by Cpl. Abigail Brown
Marines from 3rd Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF, and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36, MAG-36, in the Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer class practiced surface survival tactics at the Camp Hansen 50 meter pool, April 16.
The surface survival portion of the course teaches Marines what to do in the event a helicopter they're on goes down in the water.
"With the gear they have and the procedures we teach our students, they can survive in the water without being able to swim," said Kurt Reese, chief instructor, Survival Systems USA.
The training included formations in the water, survival raft inflation and additional water survival procedures.
"The formations we teach are line, carpet and heat escape lessening position," Reese said. "The line formation is to move away from wreckage without being swept apart in currents, carpet formation is a human raft that Marines can sleep in and the HELP is for Marines that find themselves alone after a crash."
In the chain formation all the Marines are stable and easily accounted for, Reese explained.
The carpet position can also be used if a crew member or passenger is injured because they can float on the other Marines, he added.
For the HELP position, Marines need a garbage bag which acts as a wet suit by trapping a warm layer of water against their body, Reese said.
After the Marines in the course demonstrated proper formations, they were required to demonstrate they could properly enter, exit and flip a survival raft.
"We have them flip the raft because when they inflate them there is a 50-50 chance of it inflating upside down," Reese said.
Included in the raft is a survival kit that includes a radio, signal mirror, chemical light, pen flare, space blanket, limited food and water among other things, he added.
Also included in the surface survival portion of the Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer class are the procedures for using a rescue strap, a harness lowered from helicopters during a rescue.
"That is what a Marine Corps helicopter crew will lower when they go rescue people," Reese explained. "We teach them how to use it without getting shocked, tangled or falling out of it."
Some Marines take the MAET course for their work and others for the extra training.
"I want to deploy, and I feel this course can give me an extra edge," said Lance Cpl. Edwar Climaco, motor vehicle operator, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Medical Bn. "If you follow the steps they give and don't panic this is all very easy to do."
The goal of the class was to educate Marines on survival and get them to relax in the water, Reese commented.
"Stay calm and use the procedures," he said. "Keeping a positive mental attitude will help you focus on survival."