Lance Cpl. Santiago G. Colon Jr. --
(A tactical vehicle drives down a small dirt road as a group of military men and women try to safely make their way to their destination. As the servicemembers stay on the alert for the enemy, the vehicle treks through the foreign land. The driver inadvertently drives over what looks like a bump. Suddenly, the loud explosion of an improvised explosive device, cleverly hidden in the dirt, sends the vehicle into a roll. The vehicle ends up on the side of the road, upside down.
As this may be a nightmare situation for anyone, training and awareness are keys to surviving vehicle rollovers.
The Marines and Sailors of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit have made this training part of their deployment preparation.
26th MEU’s command element conducted a vehicle rollover exercise utilizing a Humvee (HMMWV) Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) aboard Fort Pickett, Va., March 24. The other elements of the MEU will also have to undergo the training prior to departure from Fort Pickett.
A HEAT trainer is a machine that contains the entire mid-section of a humvee, including front and back seats, and machine gun turret in the roof of the vehicle. Servicemembers sit in the seats of the humvee-replica as it performs side rolls to simulate a rollover.
The trainer runs through three different rollover scenarios and the participants are required to climb, or egress, out of the vehicle. The first two are 180 and 360 degree turns, which requires the Marines and Sailors to escape through the vehicle’s doors. The third is a 90 degree turn, which challenges them to slip their way through the vehicle and escape through the turret in the roof. This area is built for a machine gunner to stand in while riding in a humvee.
According the Gunnery Sgt. Steven Rowe, the range safety officer during the training, the HEAT trainer is an important tool for running life-saving procedures in these situations.
“The HEAT shows Marines how to react in case of a rollover,” said Rowe. Post-rollover procedures are rehearsed during the training evolution, he added.
“This shows the Marines how to act in case the event of a rollover on land or in water,” said Rowe. “It shows Marines how to egress through the (vehicle) doors.”
According to Capt. Nicholas S. Gregson, action officer for the MEU’s training at Fort Pickett, the evolution is an essential part of any Marine’s training because it brings awareness to a situation that is all too common in an operational setting.
“The trainer gives confidence to a Marine in knowing what to do and to react faster in the case of a rollover,” Gregson added. “There’s nothing quite as disorienting as a rollover and the training allows service members to go through it once and prepare for something they had not previously encountered.”
“It’s an excellent trainer,” Rowe said. “You feel your weight completely shift upside down, left to right. You feel pressure you have never felt before. When you are actually upside down you have to push up on the ceiling to allow yourself room to unbuckle your seatbelt.
“(Anyone who goes through the training) will walk away with the lesson of learning how to egress properly,” Rowe added.