News: HEAT helps units develop teamwork
Story by Sgt. Adam Ross
FORT BLISS, Texas – It’s the one training element that can bring out the best in a soldier.
“Fear,” said Anthony Williams, Senior Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer for Fort Bliss. “Once they come to the simulators and we tell them we’re going to roll them over, then fear comes into play.”
But fear leads to confidence, which cements the skills learned at the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer, or HEAT.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 72nd Brigade Support Battalion, 212th Fires Brigade, experienced this transformation of fear to confidence first hand.
“I was a little uneasy to begin with,” said Pfc. Devin Hall, a signal support systems specialist with HHC. “But it was interesting and fun.”
The HEAT consists of a replica Humvee cab connected to motors that can swiftly rotate it 360 degrees. Soldiers doing rollover training climb into the cab in full protective gear and strap their seatbelts for a wild ride. During scenario mode the HEAT can simulate a side rollover, where passengers egress through the turret, and a full rollover, where all passengers are upside down and need to find an open door to exit.
Each scenario presents unique challenges, requiring soldiers to communicate effectively and move with purpose. Each soldier gets a chance to sit in the turret where they are most at risk during a rollover.
“You need to hold that gunner in place, make sure his head isn’t outside the turret,” said Sgt. 1st Class Leon Hawes, non-commissioned officer in charge of operations for HHC. “That’s big.”
The full rollover scenario presents an extra challenge: find the open door. To simulate the possibility of doors being jammed during a rollover, multiple doors are randomly locked. Each passenger checks their doors and immediately yells, “Door! Door! Door!” to their teammates, who will all exit through the same door.
Both scenarios force soldiers to work and communicate as a team in an enclosed stressful environment, which often leads to great improvement as the teams get more HEAT experience.
“That’s what it’s here for, to actually have us communicate,” said Hawes. “In the Humvee we’re getting banged around, we’re kind of disoriented, so communication is big.”
There are now two HEAT centers on Fort Bliss. Equipment at the Close Combat Tactical Training center on East Fort Bliss augments the primary HEAT center on Main Fort Bliss. Even for units not preparing for deployment, the HEAT strengthens critical safety skills that may someday save a life.
“Everyone needs this training,” said Williams. “It’s very important to know the actions necessary to get out of that vehicle.”