MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
of enlisted Marines and Sailors attended the Shallow Water Egress Trainer Aircrew
Indoctrination Class on Water Survival at the Aviation Survival Training Center
at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Oct. 6-8.
training was conducted at an indoor pool, allowing the students to develop and
enhance their survival techniques. The course put students in a chamber
resembling a CH-53E Super Stallion or a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter to simulate
a water emergency egress while under water.
their initial qualification, Aviation Marines and Sailors attend this three-day
course to learn survival skills, first aid procedures for themselves and their
buddy and experience first-hand how to use the gear and equipment,” said Joel
Imbody, leading chief petty officer with the ASTC. “This is the first time they
are exposed to this type of training in the water with a full-gear load. We
stress safety in all situations and always remind the students to stay calm in
a series of classes, safety procedures and gear familiarization, students
entered the pool for the first time to begin their practical application.
survival swim is the initial evaluation consisting of a 75-meter swim using the
survival breast stroke; a 2-minute tread of water where students must keep
their head above water; and a 7-minute drown proofing portion where the student
is required to fill their lungs with air, slow their breathing and heart rate
and float on top of the water.
to Imbody, the survival swim portion of the course allows instructors to
evaluate the students’ abilities and make a determination whether they are
prepared to move on to more advanced training or require remediation.
class, which started with 12 students, will enter the second portion with only
four. The rest will have to come back and restart the class at a later date due
to a failure of some portion,” said Imbody.
students utilized their Survivor Egress Air Bottles which contain approximately
30-45 seconds of air during the next portion of the course. During this
portion, the students were required to be pushed under water by safety swimmers.
The first time they would be in the sitting position and the second time they
would be upside down.
“The swimmer and the Shallow Water Egress
Trainer are the final two exercises, leading up to the helicopter-dunker egress
trainer,” said Imbody. “The SWET is a chair that the student buckles himself
into. The chair is rotated under water and the student is required to unbuckle
from the seat, gain positive control within the aircraft by grabbing a
reference point, and guide themselves safely out of the situation.”
to Imbody, the final portion of the class combines everything the Marines and
Sailors learned throughout the course. The students are assigned seats in the dunker
for a series of performance tests simulating day and night dunks under varying
conditions. The dunker drops into the water with the students strapped inside
and rotates upside down.
first I was really nervous and had to keep reminding myself to stay calm,” said
Lance Cpl. Kyle Pritchett, a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter mechanic with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461. “Once I
got in the water and was shown how to use the gear and got to try everything
out myself, I felt much more confident in my abilities.”
the students agreed that the ability to stay calm in a water survival scenario
was one of the most valuable pieces of information they learned in the course.
training I received makes me feel more comfortable with my gear and more ready
to become an aerial observer which is my ultimate goal,” said Pritchett, a
native of Colleyville, Texas.
to Pritchett, he has started to gain muscle memory after completing the various
training scenarios, so if he is ever in a situation where he needs the skills,
they will kick in and he will have the ability to stay calm and safe.
Marine and Sailor who completed the course is now qualified and will not have to
repeat this training for four years.