Friday, March 13, 2009

Upside-Down-in-a-Humvee Training

This afternoon we took three 180-degree rides in a Humvee Roll-Over Simulator.

As you can see in the photo, the simulator is an Armored Humvee passenger compartment mounted on a large axle. The training begins with a briefing explaining all that will happen to us. We enter the vehicle in groups of four--one for each seat. We wear our helmets, body armor and elbow and knee pads. The pads are REALLY helpful in an upside-down vehicle. We carry foam replicas of M16 rifles. In addition, there are foam replicas of water bottles, radios and other things that should be tied down in a combat vehicle, but are not. The worst is the fire extinguisher. It is also foam, but weighs eight pounds. One soldier crawled out rubbing his nose after getting hit in the face with the equivalent of a gallon bottle of milk.

When we got inside, the sergeant operating the machine first turned the Humvee to 25 degrees to show the maximum lean angle for an armored Humvee. Then he tipped us 30 degrees in the other direction to show us the max lean angle for a standard Humvee. Next he turned us 180 degrees just to show us what it feels like to be upside down, then turned us back upright.

With the preliminaries over, the operators made one final safety check, then we took the six second trip to upside down and stopped. We had to hang upside down for ten seconds or so and wait while the operators made a safety check, then we heard "Egress" on the sound system in the vehicle. This was a two-way sound system. The operators and the soldiers waiting can all hear the sounds coming from inside. We release the seat belts then flip over and crawl out. The operators disable one or more doors from the outside so we if our door doesn't open (mine didn't) we have to crawl along the ceiling and follow the first soldier out who yells, "Door. Door. Door." When we get out the next task is to set up security and make sure all four of us are out. With that complete we get back in and simulate a water roll over.

In water, we wait inside till everyone is out of the seat belts then go out one door. We have 30 seconds to get out. Our crew made it in 27 seconds. The rollover was a lot of fun on a Friday afternoon. When we were on the ready line, one of the young soldiers who was not looking forward to being upside down asked me why I was smiling. I said, "I am 55 years old and this my last carnival, so I am going to enjoy all the rides."

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