HEAT system trains Soldiers, saves lives
June 25, 2010
By Amy Sunseri
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Soldiers on Fort Huachuca now have a critical training tool to familiarize them with proper response in the event of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle rollovers. It is the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer.
The HEAT is a Humvee designed to roll 180 degrees, and is used to simulate a rollover in theater. Fort Huachuca received the HEAT trainer a few years back, but before use a building had to be constructed around the device. After that, personnel had to be hired and then certified to operate the system.
The HEAT is located in the building behind the Training Support Center. The system is now fully operational. Just about any military unit can use the system to train.
"For the most part we do local commands, but there's scheduling capabilities for others," said Shane George, HEAT/EST instructor.
Before Soldiers buckle into the Humvee they first go through either an operator or crew member briefing, depending on their role. Each unit must have a certified operator to conduct HEAT training.
The Soldiers also have to fill out a medical screening form before attempting to roll.
There are four steps to the roll. Step one teaches the Soldiers about the critical rollover points. The Soldiers will roll to 25 and 30 degrees, then re-set back to zero. By feeling the critical rollover points, George says the Soldiers in a Humvee out in the field will know what it feels like when they reach 25 or 30 degrees. They will also know they have to bring the vehicle back on all four tires or they're going to roll.
The second roll is 90 degrees; the Humvee is placed on its side and the Soldiers feel what it's like to hang there. The system is then re-set back to zero. The third roll then makes a 180 degree roll.
"Once they're inverted, we let them hang there for a little bit to see what it's like. We then bring them back, and then they actually do that egress training to where they drop the gunner's harness, release the seat belts, get out and create a parameter," said George.
On top of being turned upside down and then trying to find an exit out of the Humvee, the Soldiers also have to remember to bring their weapon and ammunition with them. The Soldiers bring simulated weapons, ammunition and other items such as artificial water bottles into the HEAT to simulate what might be inside a vehicle if they roll.
Even though the HEAT has four doors, some of the doors are locked during the exercise. So not only do the Soldiers have to unhook their seat belts, grab their weapons while upside down, but they also have to find the unlocked door in order to exit.
The major causes of Humvee rollovers are speed, inadequate training, terrain, local conditions and high centers of gravity.
"The reason vehicles roll is because of the high center of gravity," George said. "So if you put low weight on them, say for instance, the combat patrol load, once they reach that 30 degrees [critical roll point], they're more apt to roll."
Recently, Soldiers with the 1120th Transportation Battalion, a National Guard unit out of Glendale, trained with the system. The battalion is on post for two weeks completing their annual training.
"We try to fit in as much as possible during these two weeks," said Capt. Edwin Longwell, acting commander. "I just think this is great that we have this facility [HEAT] available."
Staff Sgt. Lorena Pelayo became certified as a HEAT operator. Pelayo has been deployed to combat and says the system is good training for any Soldier for any mission.
"It's really good training because you feel all that weight just rush to your head. So, then you have to be alert and keep thinking 'I can, I'm not going to freak out, I'm not going to be scared, so I need to find an exit point out of here,'" she explained.
"You feel every sense of reality through the whole ordeal," said Sgt. First Class Joe Deleon. Even though it was Deleon's second time training with the HEAT, he says he still gets nervous.
"It is worth every dime that is invested into the quality of training that one gets, it's worth it; it really is, explained Deleon.
Those interested in using the HEAT need to coordinate training 21 days in advance. For more information, contact George, 533-4137, or firstname.lastname@example.org.