Cherry Point Marines, Sailors train for survival
By Lance Cpl. Grace Waladkewics
| Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point | January 31, 2014
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Marine and Navy jet pilots conducted survival training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point’s Aviation Survival Training Center to reinforce emergency and water survival skills Jan. 22.
The pilots learned and practiced skills, including seat ejection and water survival, and refreshed their knowledge of life saving equipment, including reduced oxygen breathing devices and the aviation life support system, as part of the mandatory training.
Training included classes on physiology, seat ejection techniques, first aid and personnel recovery procedures for naval aviators in preparation for possible future training and operations, according to Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Hayes, an instructor with ASTC.
“The briefs we gave the pilots are part of a refresher course they must take every four years,” said Hayes. “They are refreshed on a variety of things so they can be prepared for any situation that may arise.”
One of the main objectives of the training was to help pilots recognize symptoms of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, said Hayes. During training, pilots breathe nitrogen to create symptoms of hypoxia, like dizziness and blurred vision. The pilots must apply skills to overcome the hypoxia and regain control.
The training helped pilots learn and understand the symptoms of hypoxia and ways to combat its effects to help prepare them for possible emergencies. Though pilots and aircrews understand the seriousness of responding to emergencies, training in a controlled environment helps Marines and Sailors better prepare for possible mishaps, according to Hayes.
“This training is for worst-case scenarios, helping some pilots get over fears or uneasiness,” said Capt. Mengliang Dai, a forward air controller with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1. “I think this training is really beneficial because we are going over stuff we may have not thought about for a while.”
Knowing each pilot and aircrew member is trained and ready in an emergency is comforting, according to Dai. Though experience and skill differ, each pilot and crewmember understands the principles of survival, he said.
“I’m not the greatest swimmer,” said Dai, “which makes the swimming and water survival the most challenging, but at the end of the course I always feel confident in my abilities.”
The training, which all naval aviators conduct every four years, helps maintain mission readiness across Marine and Navy aviation, according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Warren, an aerospace physiology technician with ASTC.
“Pilots in a high risk evolution are able to refer back to what we teach them here about how to survive in emergencies,” said Warren. The training helps save lives, according to Warren, with stories from the fleet a testament to the importance of ASTC’s mission.
“Many pilots have come back to tell stories of how the training we provided them with helped save their life, or helped them save someone else’s life,” said Warren. “It’s stories like that and the people I get to work with that make me love my job and look forward to coming to work.”