[ Triad Online Home ]                                                                                              July 13, 2007
Training

Humvee rollover course teaches corrective tactics

By Lacey Justinger, Triad Contributor

      There have been 34 Humvee rollovers in-theater during the last two years; in the 18 previous years there were only 30 rollovers. 

Photo: Maj. Devin Larson (left) gains his balance as Sgt. James Compston, both trainers with the 4th Cavalry Brigade, crawl from the upside down HEAT equipment that will be used in mobilization training at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Lacey Justinger)
Maj. Devin Larson (left) gains his balance as Sgt. James Compston, both trainers with the 4th Cavalry Brigade, crawl from the upside down HEAT equipment that will be used in mobilization training at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Lacey Justinger)

      Because Soldiers are more likely to survive with egress training, the 4th Cavalry Brigade of Fort Knox, Ky., made it a priority to acquire a new mobilization training tool.

      The Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) is an up-armored Humvee chassis with a hydraulic motor that spins the vehicle in a 360-degree rollover simulation.

      "It teaches what to do in the actual event of a vehicle rollover so the Soldiers are used to feeling disorientated when coming out," said Capt. Leonard Zech of the 4th Cavalry Brigade.

      The HEAT trainer pitches to the side at 25 and 30 degree angles so Soldiers are familiarized with the angle of a Humvee rollover.

      It then flips down to 180 degrees where Soldiers hang upside-down for a few moments to gain confidence in the seat belt strength and to find brace points for when they disengage.

      The HEAT trainer will then turn upright and then roll over once more before Soldiers disengage doors and begin the egress.

      "It takes a minute to get your bearings; it's very disorienting when you come out," said Maj. Devin Larson, a 4th Cavalry Brigade training officer. "After the rollover I felt like I should be on the other side of the vehicle. The purpose of the trainer is to know what it feels like at 25 degrees when you're about to roll over and how to quickly and safely get out."

Photo: Capt. Leonard Zech tests the movement of the 4th Cavalry Brigade's Hummer Egress Assistance Trainer that will be used to train mobilizing Soldiers at Fort McCoy. 
Capt. Leonard Zech tests the movement of the 4th Cavalry Brigade's Hummer Egress Assistance Trainer that will be used to train mobilizing Soldiers at Fort McCoy. 
(U.S. Army photograph)

      Improvised Explosive Device explosions or vehicle accidents usually will jam at least one of the doors. So in the training, the first Soldier to get a door open will drop down, call out and all others follow by kicking aside seat cushions and moving toward the opening by sliding across the interior roof.

      "You are getting the actual experience rather than a simulation," said Sgt. James Compston, one of the Soldiers from the 4th Cavalry Brigade who demonstrated the vehicle roll and escape twice.  "It's like a roller coaster ride, except just a little warmer. There's no air flow when you are hanging upside down."

      During a vehicle rollover in-theater, Soldiers would have to grab and hold the gunner inside the vehicle so that gunner is not thrown out during the roll. The new designs of the HEAT trainers will have enclosed turrets to protect the gunner during egress training.

      The main purposes of the training is to teach Soldiers how to escape the vehicle, even while under fire; for Soldiers to instinctively recognize rollover warning signs and how to take proper action to ensure the safety of all crew members.

      "We're going to run this 24-hours-a-day to make time for every mobilizing Soldier to experience this," said Norm Abbott, the mobilization plan technician with the 4th Cavalry Brigade. "We'll do most of the training in the evening hours since the Soldiers already have a full plate during the day."

      "I appreciate the training support offered here at Fort McCoy. We just set up and we already have Soldiers from other units asking us how to be involved," said Zech. The Directorate of Support Services Public Works Department and the Transportation Motor Pool also assisted in the set up.

      After the Humvee rollover problem was identified, three models of HEAT trainers were initially created and tested in motor pools. 

      A team combined the best working elements from each of the initial models to build the standard Army HEAT trainer. There are 53 Humvee rollover trainers being produced in the United States, and Fort McCoy will receive its permanent trainer in August.

      The current HEAT trainer at Fort McCoy is one of the original creations on loan to the 4th Cavalry Brigade. 

      "There was a lot of coordination to work through but it's that important to get realistic training," said Abbott. "This is the real McCoy."

(Justinger is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)

(See related story.)

[ Top of Page ]

[ Triad Online Home ]