View Full Version : 24th MEU Marines plunge into water survival training; learn to think through hot wate

05-12-09, 06:34 AM
24th MEU Marines plunge into water survival training; learn to think through hot water situation

5/11/2009 By Cpl. Alex C. Guerra , 24th MEU

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines completed the new Modular Amphibious Egress Training course, a pre-deployment training requirement designed to help Marines survive an aircraft crash into water, at the Water Survival Training Facility here, May 5.

These were the first 24th MEU Marines to complete the new course since it opened in Nov. 2008.

“The course prepares the individual Marine for his own individual safety,” said Mr. Ron R. Welsh, egress instructor, Survival Systems USA. “We are trying to teach these Marines the necessary skills to coordinate the evacuation and egress from a ditched helicopter.”

The course covers three phases of aircraft ditching and how the Marines need to react to each of them. First surviving the crash and the initial impact of a downed helicopter, then surviving the escape; the jettison and egress of a submerged aircraft in water, and finally, surviving the surface of the water and the wait for retrieval.

Marines first learn to escape from a Shallow Water Egress Trainer, a caged chair that’s inverted underwater, and are introduced to the Intermediate Passenger Helicopter Aircrew Breathing Device, a breathing apparatus, which becomes a lifeline to passengers trying to escape an aircraft submerged several feet under water.

Students were then blindfolded in the SWET chair and practiced how to escape and properly utilize the IPHABD. As the course progressed, the students had to escape from a helicopter simulator, the MAET, blindfolded and with protective vests and rifles.

As Marines from the MEU were submerged and overturned underwater several times, they learned how important it is to remain calm and rely on training while under duress.

“We are trying to teach the Marines how to think and use these procedures whether if it’s in a training device, a helicopter 30 feet underwater, or a vehicle flipped over in a [flooded] ditched,” said Philip Gosselin, egress instructor, Survival Systems USA. “The ability to think – that is what is going to get them out of [an aircraft].”

Panic was a factor that Marines learned to negotiate underwater. Instructors kept the emphasis on remaining calm and not panicking while facing chaotic situations.

It was a lesson for Cpl. Lindsey M. Philpot, operations clerk, 24th MEU, who was familiar with Survival Systems’ training courses. In previous training for egress from a downed helicopter it was simply performing a SWET chair egression.

“Going around a second time, I felt the training was better,” said Philpot. “I didn’t expect to go into the helo dunker (MAET) as many times as I did, and I learned not to let fear become between you and learning something new.”

The two-day course instilled Marines with a new sense of confidence to go along with valuable training as they prepare for their deployment with the 24th MEU next year.