By Spc. Kimberly Millett, 89th Military Police BrigadeJanuary 11, 2007
BAGHDAD - Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, trained dozens of Soldiers on Humvee rollover techniques Friday and Saturday in the parking lot near the 89th Military Police Brigade Headquarters.
Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Rada, platoon sergeant, Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Bde., 10th Mountain Div., said the two-day class was part of a larger goal geared toward certifying 23 trainers who will take the equipment and experience back to Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, and instruct their own units.
Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer, commonly known as HEAT, is designed to give Soldiers an idea of what it's like to be in a rollover. Rada said its purpose is to prepare troops for the real thing.
Before climbing into the simulator, Soldiers received safety training measures and rollover response techniques. From there, individuals were fully-geared for training before climbing into the simulator and combat-locking the doors.
The operator first rolled the truck to the left and then to the right at a 25-degree angle to illustrate to the passengers when the Humvee is in danger of rolling over. Next, the truck was spun in a complete circle, forcing the gunner to take refuge in the cab. The other team members held onto the gunner and braced themselves.
During the last exercise, the simulator was flipped upside down, leaving Soldiers with the challenge of finding a way out. Up until this point, the teams weren't challenged much, finding the trainer more like an amusement park ride than a test. That changed within seconds. Getting the seatbelt off after the rollover required lifting their body weight and the weight of their gear up while they were hanging upside down. Some Soldiers came rolling, falling or crawling out of doors tiresome and gasping for air.
Spc. Charles Robertson, military policeman, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 89th MP Bde., was surprised at how challenging the training was.
"It was as realistic as they could make it and still be safe," he said. "It was more disorienting than I thought it would be. We're heavier than I thought we were with all the gear on."
Sgt. Joshua Smith, another Soldier from HHC, 89th MP Bde., said it was harder than initially anticipated.
"It was chaotic," he said. "Our gear got stuck in the straps. The seatbelts would get stuck."
Robertson said getting out of the seatbelts while upside down was the hardest part of the training.
"The hardest part is trying to get out of the seatbelt," he said. "You can always kick a door down. There was a little bit of panic when the seatbelts started choking."
Smith said Robertson he had a really hard time staying out of the turret while they were spinning, especially since he is a relatively little guy. Overall though, he said that the training made him more aware of his role in a Humvee rollover and helped prepare his team for the possible event that an accident occurs outside the wire during a mission.
In addition to teaching Soldiers how to unlock combat-locked doors while upside down, Rada hoped the training reinforced the necessity of wearing seatbelts.
"Not many people take seatbelts as a serious matter," he said. "Through this training, they can see how much the gunner gets flapped around. I've seen videos of people who didn't wear seatbelts at all and they got tossed all around."
Rada said from the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom until October 2006, there were 364 fatalities from rollovers.