U.S. MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII-KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii --
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Marines braced for the rolling impact of High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle Egress Assistance Trainer training Aug. 27 here.
HEAT training simulates the rolling effect of a HUMVEE and the measures to be taken.
According to Master Sgt. Patrick Ward, training chief for Headquarters and Service Battalion, MarForPac, the training was established in 2004 to effectively prepare Marines to perform a proper escape after a vehicle rolls over and set up a safety perimeter.
“It’s the pre-training before you go out to Iraq, Afghanistan or for anyone that’s going forward in theater,” Ward said. “Everybody has to do this before they go out.”
U.S. Central Command and the Commandant of the Marine Corps made this training mandatory for all Marines.
The Marines were given a safety brief and medical survey before they suited up for the ride.
Prepared with a helmet, flak, eye protection, gloves, elbow and knee pads and a rubber rifle issued by the trainer, the Marines entered the simulator and belted in.
“Basically, Marines are going to have four types of scenarios” Ward said. “These scenarios are going to represent a vehicle overturning.”
The four scenarios are based on which angle the vehicle stops rolling, whether it’s on its wheels, upside down or on either side.
As the simulator spun around, the Marines inside braced against the roof of the vehicle to protect their heads and necks.
When the simulator came to a stopping point, the trainer unlocked one door, which the Marines had to identify and determine how they were going to get out.
Once out, they then had to perform a 360-degree safety perimeter around the vehicle.
“The hatches are extremely heavy and there’s a proper way to exit the vehicle,” Ward said. “I went through the training and it hurts. My knees were banged around and I felt the pain two days later.”
Ward said he couldn’t understand why he was sore until he realized he had gone through a simulated accident.
“The HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer is a great training tool for all Marines,” said Capt. Oronde Dominique, battalion comptroller for Headquarters and Service Battalion, MarForPac. “Marines being equipped with the intense knowledge gained from HEAT will allow them to react swiftly, when time is critical in an environment filled with chaos.”
Dominique, a participant in the training, said the training will prepare every Marine for different accidental situations that may occur during deployment and allow Marines time to think about how to react and work as a team.
“You can say all day long what you’re going to do when a vehicle rolls over, but are you actually going to do that when you’re all shook up and disoriented,” Ward said.
Ward said vehicles can roll many times and land in awkward positions.
“If it lands correctly, it’s easy to get out and exit your hatches, but when it lands differently, the scenario changes inside the vehicle and you’re saying ‘how am I going to get out now?’” Ward said. “You start forgetting things, unless you get a couple practices at it and get muscle memory.”
Ward also said, even with the scenarios, there are still events that can be added to make the training more efficient.
“We need to simulate rounds going off, like artillery simulators and a machinegun simulator,” Ward said. “It will give you the (inclination) that you’re in combat and then it will give you more of a realistic feeling, so you won’t come out feeling secure, thinking nothing’s supposed to happen.”
Smoke machines are currently being used, but another item Ward is looking into, to fully simulate a life-like situation, is initiating night training.
“If we can train during the day, we can train at night,” Ward said. “It’s easy to go through the motions, but when you’ve got the whole scenario, you tend to move a little faster and be a little quicker in what you’re doing, but yet, still smart to what’s going on.”
One of the two major causes for HUMVEE rollover is the extra armor, which weighs the vehicle down, enhancing the chance of skidding out off control.
Another is the unseen improvised explosive devices hiding along the roadside waiting to detonate.
Ward said no Marine knows when their HUMVEE will be subjected to rolling over and he’s got to be prepared for that.