JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Rapid acceleration, hairpin turns, squealing tires and hard braking maneuvers were among the many sights, sounds and heart-pounding moments that a group of Army Reserve Soldiers experienced here Aug. 5, as they conducted hands-on training at the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course.

The eight Soldiers who took the course are military police assigned to the 335th Signal Command (Theater), headquartered in East Point, Georgia. The specialized training they conducted is designed to help them become better, safer emergency vehicle drivers.

"The purpose of today's training is to make sure that our military police, and specifically those identified as security drivers can move anyone we are tasked to move in a vehicle as quickly and safely as possible," said Sgt. 1st Class David H. Mace Jr., noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the provost marshal's office, 335th Signal Command (Theater), and instructor for the course. "This type of training is a perishable skill and because we are assigned to a non-military police unit, we don't get to do it very often."

The course was conducted over two days. One day was spent in the classroom discussing the various safety factors and considerations involved in emergency vehicle operations. Students also learned about vehicle dynamics and how to safely maintain a vehicle at a high rate of speed through various obstacles.

The second day was when the students got behind the wheel and got a feeling for navigating a vehicle through tight turns, weaving through various cone obstacles, rapid braking, shuffle steering and backing up exercises.

For some of the group, this was their first time participating in a course like this. "I actually loved this course," said Sgt. Brandon D. Spear, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic and combat engineer, assigned to the provost marshal office, 335th Signal Command (Theater). "At first this course took away my confidence because it was something I had never done before and I didn't do well. After driving through it a few times though, it starting actually building my confidence level up and I drove a lot better."

Others participating in the training had been through it before and reacquired the skills very quickly. One of those Soldiers was Sgt. Karl S. Hart, a military policeman and security driver, assigned to the provost marshal office, 335th Signal Command (Theater). "I have done this training a few times before," he said. "The key to doing well is mainly car control. You can teach it to an extent in a classroom, but you have to truly experience it to get the feel for the vehicle and you have to take the training seriously."

The idea to conduct this course came about months ago when Mace, who has been a military policeman since 1981, saw a need for it. "This particular skill set has been a short coming for us, because it's difficult to do this type of training at our home station," he said. "We don't have the facilities or equipment available to us there. So when we came up here on a pre-deployment site survey, I made contact with the Navy and asked if we could use their facility and they were very gracious to let us use it."

"Overall, the Soldiers seemed to really enjoy the unique training opportunity and their skills dramatically improved over the course of the day. At the beginning of the course, they killed a bunch of cones," said Mace. "But it's ok because it's all part of the learning curve. By the end of the day, they were driving the course as fast as they can drive it and were not knocking down very many, if any, cones at all.

With the success of the training behind him, Mace plans to expand on the course later in the week. "We are going to continue to build upon our skills by adding another vehicle to the training," he said. "We are going to have both vehicles navigate through the course in tandem and that can be incredibly nerve-racking. When we are done here, these Soldiers will be able to operate a vehicle in a safe manner at a speed that your typical Soldier coming out here would simply not be able to do."