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NEWS | March 5, 2013

Feeling the 'HEAT': Humvee rollover simulator teaches valuable survival skills

By Airman 1st Class R. Alex Durbin 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The seatbelt tightened across the driver's body-armor clad chest and locked with an audible click. He held his hand firmly against the Humvee's roof, bracing his weight as the vehicle tilted.

"Rollover, rollover, rollover!" the four passengers shouted in unison as the vehicle broke into a 35-degree tilt.

When the vehicle was fully overturned, the passengers held themselves up, only letting their body weight sag slightly against their restraints as blood rushed to their heads.

"Go!" yelled a voice from outside the vehicle.

At once, the passengers hastily unhooked their safety belts, allowing their bodies to fall onto the Humvee's roof. After unlatching the doors, they pulled themselves out of the vehicle and quickly formed a protective perimeter around the overturned vehicle.

This may seem like a scene from a faraway battlefield, but in fact, it was all viewed through the instructor's console at the front of the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer, or HEAT, as members from a U.S. Navy Expeditionary Combat Camera unit trained at Fort Eustis, Va., Feb. 27, 2013.

The HEAT trainer is designed to train Service members on the effects of a vehicle rollover and allows them to conduct drills that will provide the skill and ability to react properly during emergency egress situations.

The trainer allows units to rehearse under controlled conditions and physically execute steps required to survive a rollover, allowing occupants to gain experience in how to orient themselves, collect any injured individuals and successfully exit the overturned vehicle.

"There will always be accidents, but most fatalities aren't caused by the accident itself; they're caused by a lack of experience and knowledge of how to exit the overturned vehicle," said Anthony Harris, Army Support Activity Simulation Branch training support assistant. "Simulation devices like the HEAT trainer are saving the military money, and more importantly, lives."

The trainer is one of many simulators implemented across the Department of Defense to prepare military members for the tests of real-life emergency situations while allowing them to experience realistic combat situations without any of the dangers.

"Simulators provide a good degree of realism without the expense and danger that comes along with accomplishing the same level of immersive training," said Harris. "The purpose of training is to make life-saving habits become second nature, and simulators offer the first-hand experience in the closest setting we can provide while saving equipment and lives."

The trainer at Fort Eustis is open to all branches, and all Service members are encouraged to take advantage of it.

"Deployed Service members face threats of improvised explosive devices, perilous road conditions and uneven driving conditions, increasing the likelihood of a rollover," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Gregory Juday, Expeditionary Combat Camera Training Department trainer. "Having the knowledge and training prior to deploying is critical, and could potentially save their lives."