Soldiers Soak Up Training to Stay Alive
June 23, 2009
- What we're trying to do is teach Soldiers and give them the confidence in their ability to use their uniforms as flotation devices.
- We want them to relax and use what we teach them to save their and their buddy's life.
- If they panic, the water will suck them down. The water is a lot like quicksand so it's important to teach them to relax and be confident.
- I would like to think a lot of the training we receive in the Army can be used in real world situations outside of the Army.
Members of the 59th Ordnance Brigade have made it their mission this summer to ensure no Soldier or family member drowns while enjoying time in the water. With the national average at 6,000 deaths a year, it was time once again for the Soldiers of HHC to jump into the pool for training June 16-17.
Cold water couldn't stop these Soldiers as they swam 25 meters, floated in the 12-foot deep end of a pool for five minutes, learned how to remove themselves from a flak vest while swimming and use their uniforms as a flotation device.
"What we're trying to do is teach Soldiers and give them the confidence in their ability to use their uniforms as flotation devices," said Staff Sgt. Nathanael Skinner, a drown proof instructor and member of the NCO Academy.
"If the Soldiers get in a situation where they're in the water, we want them to relax and use what we teach them to save their and their buddy's life," the veteran instructor since 1991 said. "If they panic, the water will suck them down. The water is a lot like quicksand so it's important to teach them to relax and be confident."
Soldiers can use their Army combat uniform jackets and pants as techniques to stay above water. With the jackets the Soldiers pull their collars tight around their necks, put their mouths into the top of their jackets, leaving their noses above to inhale air. If a Soldier breathes in through the nose and pushes the air out their mouths, the jacket will quickly fill up, giving the Soldier a flotation device.
"Their equipment can be used to survive," Skinner said. "When you fall into the water, your shirt is going to fill up with air. We teach the Soldiers to take advantage of that and to use it to their benefit. We also teach the Soldiers how to use their pants as a flotation device. We advise them to loose the pants because it lightens their load by about 10 pounds and then they can tie the ends of the pants together and fill them up with air to be used to float."
Among the swimmers was Sgt. Rosalyn Anderson, S-1 NCO and a member of HHC. Anderson is an avid fan of water fun and yearly anticipates this training.
"I was actually looking forward to this training because it's enjoyable and you get something out of it," she said. "I think it's good to be properly prepared to handle any kind of extreme situation in the water. You never know when you might find yourself in trouble.
"We also learned about floating, like the fetal float and the dead-man float," she said about the training. "These are just in case you get tired, you can rest for a moment and conserve your energy. We also were taught how to assist a battle buddy in the water if they can't swim or are getting tired while trying to stay afloat."
Like many Army training aids, down proofing can also help Soldiers during their leisure times.
"I would like to think a lot of the training we receive in the Army can be used in real world situations outside of the Army," Anderson said. "This training really touches on that. "