By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers are very used to the
rolling hills of their home state -- used to maneuvering on the
slopes, which can be steep, slippery, soft, and perilous.
But not as perilous as simulations they encountered recently at
Staff Sgt. Quincy Glover (left)
closely watches an overturned Soldier begin his escape from an
overturned Humvee during HEAT classes. Glover is the HEAT
assistant NCOIC. (Photo
by Tom Michele)
The Kentucky Soldiers of the 201st Engineers Battalion found
themselves upside down, bracing themselves on the ceiling of their
Humvee -- that is now a floor.
Seat-belt strapped in, weapons, ammunition, radios, personal
gear, fighting equipment tumbling in any or every direction, the
Soldiers learned how to survive and escape an overturned Hummer as
part of their mobilization training.
The Humvee they used didn't have any of the engine,
transmission or wheel and axle components found on a normally
The Fort McCoy Humvee used to acquaint Soldiers with survival
is mounted on an axle-like apparatus that allows instructors to
rapidly turn over the vehicle sideways in a 360-degree pattern, degree
by degree, and only fast enough to simulate what an improvised
explosive device might do or the results of a rollover into a ditch.
About 500 Kentucky Guard Soldiers are going through the Humvee
Egress Assistance Training (HEAT) as a segment of their pre-deployment
The HEAT apparatus is set up in one of the vehicle classrooms
in the 2700 block of the cantonment area.
The training staff selects four Soldiers at a time, briefs them
about what they will be going through, and then belts them into the
Hummer for the gentle rolling spin.
Egress techniques have each and every Soldier hollering
"rollover" as they use their hands and arms to brace
themselves on the ceiling that becomes a floor.
Getting their seat belts off is one challenge, as the Soldier
is hanging upside down from what is now the ceiling. Reorienting the
human body in cramped space is another instant task.
Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Martinez
(right) checks Spc. David Wade's basic Soldier load after the
practical phase of HEAT classes. (Photo
by Tom Michele)
Speed obviously is important, but, Soldiers have the additional
concern of an enemy force firing at them. Once Soldiers are out of the
vehicle, it is time to secure the vehicle and sensitive and valuable
items, such as radios, weapons and ammunition. A Soldier may need to
care for an injured buddy.
Simple becomes complex, and easily life-threatening.
Staff Sgt. Quincy Glover, assistant NCOIC for the HEAT class,
said, "We teach Soldiers how to minimize injuries, help their
buddies and to show them how to figure out the better or best way to
get out of a rolled-over Humvee. We show them several scenarios,
including being in water, such as at a bridge."
Glover, an instructor with the 1st of the 340th Training
Support Battalion, who has been on the training staff since June 2007,
said Soldiers go through a one-hour classroom session then spend
half-an-hour going through the simulator.
"We emphasize Soldiers being safety conscious, not to
panic, keep their focus, maintain their orientation, know their
surroundings, know if they are under fire, getting out of the vehicle,
getting their buddies out and getting sensitive items, like weapons,
out," he said.
The HEAT simulation uses a four-person scenario with a vehicle
commander, driver and two crew members.
One of those crew members could easily be a gunner standing in
a turret of a Hummer. An inside crew member is responsible, if at all
possible, to grab the turret gunner and pull them inside the vehicle
as the whole rollover scene is happening.
It is more real life than simulation, as the overturned
Soldiers react to being upside down, escaping their seat belts,
reorienting themselves to an upright position, finding a door to exit,
opening the heavy door, then crawling out.
This is not the first year of HEAT training at McCoy, but the
model of the trainer now at McCoy compared to
the first year is more advanced in operation, and, as Glover
emphasized, "Safer and more versatile."
The new trainer arrived at McCoy last November. A second
trainer is expected to arrive at McCoy later this summer.
Glover also noted, "We want the Soldiers to learn how to
get out properly and without injury, particularly to their head, neck
and spine. That overturned Soldier is taught to brace themselves
against the vehicle ceiling with their hands and arms and to keep
their chin tucked in so they won't become a bobble-head and get more
injuries. That's what we want our Soldiers to take out of this class
in case, God forbid, they get into this situation."
Glover noted the HEAT trainer is a simulated up-armored Hummer
chassis, as the canvas-skinned Humvees "don't go outside the wire
of the forward operating base. Only the up-armored Hummers venture
into threat areas."
(Michele is a public affairs specialist for
Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base