Marines conduct lifesaving water survival training

7 Aug 2015 | Cpl. Neysa Huertas Quinones The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines tested their bravery and survival skills in a simulated sinking aircraft during water survival training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., July 28.

“Our training focuses on enhancing the operational readiness of designated aviators and aircrew,” said Navy Lt. Diane Pietila, an Aerospace Operational Physiologist with the Aviation Survival Training Center. “We also train contract pilots, selected passengers, specialists, and non-aircrew based upon need.”

The ASTC emphasizes mishap and accident prevention, enhancing and sustaining performance, and mishap survival, according to Pietila. 

“We strive to provide the most up-to-date, operationally relevant physiology and water survival training possible,” said Pietila.

The students were given classroom instruction followed by simulation drills in a pool to familiarize them with the gear they would carry on a flight and how to use it to save their lives in the event of a crash.

The course holds vital information that all aviators should know, according to Staff Sgt. Travis Elliot, an aviation quality assurance representative with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29 stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.

The course is broken down into basic steps and gives the Marines hands on training experience while in a controlled environment. 

“Even though it is a safe training environment, the simulations are difficult and put the skills learned in the classroom to the test,” said Elliott. “When Marines are strapped to the simulated helicopter and it flips upside down under water, the Marine has to stay calm and assess their situation. Simple tasks get increasingly difficult when the instructors factor in low visibility and other students trying to get out of the simulation at the same time.”

Along with the water survival drills, students take first aid classes and have a general understanding about flight protocol in order to earn their qualification. The broad range of skills they must acquire over the course contributes to the student’s readiness standards.

2nd MAW has a dominant number of personnel that are flying in this area. Classes such as water survival not only reassures attendees in their immediate action skills of survival, but gives 2nd MAW leadership confidence in the understanding of readiness standards, capabilities and adherence by air crew, according to Elliott.