By Lt. Col. Cynthia KingSeptember 16, 2019
FORT BLISS, Texas - To an outsider, it looks like an indoor amusement park, with individuals waiting their turn to be strapped in the car that flips and turns, with an attendant at the controls. But, to individuals getting ready to deploy, they know it's the ride of their lives, the one that might save theirs or their battle buddies one day in combat.
U.S. Soldiers in Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team used the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) at Fort Bliss, Texas, September 13, 2019, as part of their preparations to support Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East. The trainer flips Soldiers strapped in seats configured identical to their military vehicles, so they can experience in a controlled environment, the sensation of disorientation after a roll-over and exiting a vehicle in full military gear.
"This training is important because when Soldiers go into theater, there's a chance of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) that can cause roll-overs," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Cleon Morris, an observer controller with the 5-306 Brigade Support Battalion, First Army. "Knowing how to egress safely can save a life."
After the vehicle comes to a stop, the Soldiers have to unstrap themselves, which is challenging since they are upside down in full gear. They then must find a door latch that opens so each can safely exit. To successfully complete the training event, they must establish a security perimeter around the vehicle and ensure one-hundred percent accountability of personnel.
Sgt. First Class Santina Brown, a finance management technician in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team said that being in a military accident is a humbling experience, which she learned firsthand from multiple incidents hitting IEDs during her deployment to Iraq in 2009-2010.
"I always explain to Soldiers what they can expect and tell them it's important to stay calm," said Brown. "As a team, we will take care of one another and get safely out."
For Pfc. Charmaine Robinson, an information technology specialist in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, she thought the training was well worth it.
"I thought this was a great experience," said Robinson, who is going on her first deployment. "The key to me if we have a roll-over, is helping assist our battle buddies get out the safest way."
The simulation center at Fort Bliss has vehicle roll-over trainers for the Humvee, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (M-ATV) vehicle, and MaxxPro Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.
"The unit is taking the training very seriously," said Morris. "The leadership has been very supportive."
The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is headquartered with the North Carolina Army National Guard and also consists of Soldiers from the South Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia Army National Guard.