By Sgt. David E. Roscoe, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 25, 2007 - Special training in escaping from an overturned Humvee paid off last month for soldiers assigned here who suffered only minor injuries when their Humvee rolled over after an attempted suicide-car-bomb attack. Army Maj. James A. Delapp, executive officer for Task Force Pacemaker, said he read about the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer and arranged for the unit's soldiers to receive the training before they deployed.
"I read about the HEAT in the Center for Army Lessons Learned Handbook, and quickly started coordinating training for the battalion," he said. "It wasn't an easy task, because there were only two of these trainers in the U.S. at the time."
Delapp said he contacted U.S. Army Forces Command officials and coordinated for one of the trainers to be sent from Fort Drum, N.Y., to the Yakima Training Center in Yakima, Wash., so the entire 864th Engineer Combat Battalion could get the training.
The Task Force Pacemaker command sergeant major and his Humvee crew put their egress training to work when they were blindsided by a suicide car bomber, causing their vehicle to overturn.
"No matter the situation, once you've had the proper training, situational reactions become second nature," Army Command Sgt. Maj. Charles J. Turner said. "The rollover training we received before this deployment was absolutely beneficial to our safety." Training in the HEAT progresses from simple scenarios in which all occupants are uninjured to more serious circumstances in which one or more of the occupants are wounded and unconscious.
After seeing the effects of the new rollover training firsthand, Army Staff Sgt. Eugene D. Sangrey, senior medic for the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion firmly believes in the training's value.
"The HEAT exercises were very instrumental in saving the lives of the soldiers in my truck," he said. "The crew members knew exactly what to do without a second of hesitation. Without the proper training, there is no doubt that our crew's safety would have been compromised."
(Army Sgt. David E. Roscoe is assigned to the Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office.)