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Bringing the HEAT to Yuma: Station gets Humvee rollover trainer

By Cpl. Laura A. Mapes | | May 14, 2009

The station’s first Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer instructors graduated at the new simulator facility here May 8.

The 16 instructors will prepare deploying Marines for Humvee rollovers by using the HEAT simulator to create dangerous scenarios, while teaching the proper techniques to avoid injury.

“It’s a wonderful concept because it teaches people how to get out of a potentially life-threatening situation,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Conley, Search and Rescue corpsman. “We can have our guys simulate an extract from a flipped Humvee, because realistically that is something we may encounter.”

The instructors, trained by Staff Sgt. Frank Villaverde, a combat instructor from Twentynine Palms, will be certified for two years to take their Marines through the HEAT.

The simulator, which cost $180,000, arrived here in early May and is now a training requirement for squadrons prior to deploying.

The HEAT is able to rotate 360 degrees in both directions, and students will go through four scenarios, exiting out both doors, the gunner’s hatch and once with a simulated victim.

“We want you to train your Marines for the worst-case scenario,” Villaverde said to the students. “Because you may know the possibilities, but they might not.”

As of August 2008, more than 245 deaths and 900 serious injuries had been caused by Humvee rollover accidents in theater since 2003, according to Marine Corps Central Command vehicle safety department.

There are three factors, that can cause a rollover—human, environment and vehicle. The HEAT course focuses on avoiding these factors.

“The trainer is really physical, and it’s not as easy as it looks. It’s about as difficult as a (Combat Fitness Test),” said Villaverde. “It is just like any other training, where practice makes perfect. We just want them to be prepared.”

The HEAT facility, located next to Ramada Field, was designed with safety in mind.

“This is probably one of the best facilities of its kind,” said Craig Bowman, station engineering technician. “All of the wiring for the simulator is underground, so there is no trip hazard.”

Yuma was supposed to receive the HEAT in December 2008, however, due to program updates, the shipment was delayed.

“We wanted to make sure we were getting the most updated version of the simulator, and I think we have,” said Joe Bottum, station tactical safety specialist and master trainer for the simulator.

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