News: Water Survival Training
Story by Staff Sgt. Austen Adriaens
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – The 109th Airlift Squadron conducted its annual water survival training at Foss Swim School in Eden Prairie, Minn., Jan 24, 2014.
The water survival training encompassed equipment familiarization and processes in the event of an emergency over-water ditching scenario from an aircraft. The training included survival raft and kit usage, parachute canopy disentanglement, and parachute riser drag training. Each station focused on different stressors that could arise in open water. Knowing how to react and being familiar with the equipment increases an airmen’s overall odds of survival.
The survival and raft kit usage, led by Staff Sgt. Ryan Aderhold, trained airmen on the use of a 20 man life raft. Airmen had to climb into the raft with the boarding ramps pulled in. Once inside the raft, airmen inventoried the accessory kit and set up the raft canopy. They also went over how to procure food and water while aboard the raft.
“These scenarios will help the airmen deal with the health and psychological issues that arise,” stated Staff Sgt. Ryan Aderhold.
The parachute canopy disentanglement required Airmen to navigate under a partially submerged parachute in the pool. aircrew members swam into a circular position around the parachute and individually went under - emerging on the other side. Aircrew participants offered tips and suggestions to help their fellow airmen who had not yet gone under the parachute, building team camaraderie.
Senior Master Sgt. Aaron Siek led parachute riser drag training that tested the airmen’s ability to release from their restraint harness. This sounds easy enough, however, airmen had to disconnect from the harness while being dragged through the water. This simulated the effects of a parachute being propelled by wind. The airmen were dragged in forward and backward facing positions through the water. This was a crowd favorite as airmen laughed and tried to disconnect the fastest.
“My favorite actually was the drag that they did with the parachute and getting out of the fitting.” said Maj. Andy Murphy, navigator. “You kind of get a nose full of water.”
These training scenarios are paramount in helping the airmen better cope the elements in an over-water ditching scenario. Many of the airmen commented on their experience as being both educational and fun.