News: 45th IBCT gets rolled
Story by: Sgt. Belynda Faulkner
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is currently training for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. Throughout training, the theme has been “Training Saves Lives.” Egress training is especially important in that aspect due to the number of deaths and injuries vehicle rollovers have caused.
Since the Army began requiring all soldiers to attend egress training in 2007, the number of fatalities due to rollovers has dropped tremendously. Vehicle rollovers have caused the deaths of 24 soldiers in the past five years, according to the Combat Readiness Center/Safety Center. An article in the Army Times noted that number was more than doubled in 2005 alone.
The egress trainer is the body of a military vehicle on a motorized restraint that allows the vehicle to rotate 360 degrees, and it can be stopped at different angles to let the occupants inside feel the critical angle of rollover. The vehicle can also be positioned at 180 degrees, so the soldiers inside are completely upside down.
According to Webster’s Dictionary Egress literally means “to get out of a place.” In a rollover, the gunner is in the most danger. It is his team members’ job to grab him and pull him safely into the vehicle, according to the Humvee Uparmored Rollover Emergency Procedures Graphic Training Aid. One important part of the classroom portion of the training is the understanding that each military vehicle has a different critical angle. Critical angle refers to the point when a rollover is imminent.
Staff Sgt. Oliver Sudduth is an egress instructor with the 3-347th Combat Support Battalion, 158th Infantry Brigade and knows the importance of his job.
“The main point we try to teach is teamwork,” said Sudduth. “Units have to work together to get the gunner down safely and egress out of the vehicle.”
Units are taught that when the vehicle is going to roll, they shout “rollover” three times. This alerts everyone to take action and do their part to include grabbing the gunner and pulling him into the vehicle, to brace for impact.
First Sgt. David Matschkowsky, who is assigned to the 177th Armored Brigade’s Opposing Forces Company, was involved in a vehicle rollover during his last deployment to Iraq in 2009.
“You can’t believe how violent a rollover actually is,” said Matschkowsky. “A military vehicle does not absorb the impact and disperse it like a civilian car. So even at 30 miles per hour, everything in the vehicle is thrown around.”
A day at the egress trainer seems like it would be like riding a roller coaster, but when you’re upside down, with the extra weight of equipment the thought of undoing your seatbelt is somewhat unnerving.
“You see soldiers panic,” said Sudduth. “It’s understood when you release yourself from the seatbelt that you could really get hurt, if you don’t know what to do.”
Spc. Daniel Dominguez, a gunner with B Company, 1-279th Infantry Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team just completed egress training.
“It’s crazy being the gunner,” said Dominquez. “You rely on your guys to assist you in getting down safely, and then you just hold on.”
There are many things that soldiers must think through before attempting to egress from a rollover situation. Muzzle awareness, bracing before undoing the seatbelt, staying calm and not giving into panic are just a few.
This training also teaches soldiers the importance of wearing their seatbelts and to have confidence in the restraint system.
Up-armored vehicles roll over. It is important to teach our soldiers how to react to such a traumatic and violent event. Egress training is continuing to reduce the number of soldiers that die in vehicle rollovers overseas.
The 177th Armored Brigade trains, coaches and mentors soldiers, airmen and sailors in support of our nation’s overseas contingency operations. The majority of the work at the 177th is with mobilized Army Reserve component forces, although they also train active forces. The brigade is stationed at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center at Camp Shelby, Miss., which is the largest and most active mobilization training center in the U.S. Army.