News: HEAT prepares troops for the worst
Story by Sgt. Joshua Risner
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - "ROLLOVER ROLLOVER ROLLOVER!” In a real-world situation this phrase, shouted in a vehicle, would provoke horror and provide mere fractions of a second to react before the chaos and trauma of a rollover accident took its toll on those inside.
In a hangar at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., however, the aftermath is more akin to a roller coaster ride than a vehicle accident.
The soldiers here, part of Combat Support Training Exercise West - 2011, are participating in the humvee egress assistance trainer which teaches them how to react in the event of a rollover on dry land, in water and under fire.
In the HEAT module, a stripped-down humvee body attached to a rotating mechanism, soldiers get a chance to experience what it feels like to be upside down in a vehicle. They learn in real time how to free themselves from their seatbelts and exit the humvee while it is inverted or on its side, all the while maintaining security and communication.
“Don’t be afraid to communicate, that will be your number one bread and butter right there for every mission, whatever you have going on,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Vatt, an observer, controller/ trainer, to the trainees.
The soldiers enjoy the training and have fun with it but realize its real-world implications, according to Spc. Joshua Cason from Las Vegas, Nev., assigned to the 645th Transportation Company.
“It’s fun but serious at the same time,” he said. “It really makes you think. My rifle fell out of my hands when [the vehicle] turned over. If it was the real thing, I might have been done right there.”
Another soldier in his truck, Spc. Joshua Lujan, commented on the chaos of a rollover. “There was stuff flying around in there, it hurts when something smacks you upside the face,” he noted. “It taught me real quick to keep my head down and watch my mouth, otherwise I’ll get my teeth knocked out.”
The training is meant to reduce the amount of casualties sustained in rollover accidents, which have claimed many lives in combat operations over the last ten years.
As the old military adage states: it is better to sweat in training than to bleed in combat. Sweat here will hopefully minimize blood overseas.