While many of America’s war fighters come to terms with the concept of dying in a firefight well before they actually set boots on the ground, there are no shortages of other risks to the lives of those we send into harm’s way in defense of our nation.  Recent headlines have made it frighteningly clear that American service members may face a wide array of life threatening situations without ever firing a round at an enemy, including rescue operations in portions of our country that have been ravaged by massive storms like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and tragic accidents like the recent crashes of a C-130 in Kentucky, and an Osprey in the Pacific.

The best way to prepare our war fighters to survive in any life threatening environment is, of course, to train them in situations that approximate those threats to life and limb, without introducing too much actual risk into the training environment.  One such example is the helicopter egress trainer.

In the event a helicopter were to go down in water, it’s important that U.S. Marines not only know how to quickly escape the cabin of the downed aircraft, but they need to know how they’ll react when strapped to a bench in a steel cage that’s quickly taking on water, and likely not sitting right side up.  The effect such an event can have on a person is difficult to predict, and it’s only through familiarity with it, that an individual can work to develop their ability to cope with such an incredible level of stress, while making sound decisions and executing on the training they’ve received.

In this video, you can watch as U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit train to escape a downed helicopter in different scenarios.  The water is very real, and as such, so are the dangers, so rescue divers and instructors standby as the Marines conduct increasingly difficult exercises in the water, culminating with escaping the trainer’s cabin while under water, upside down, and blindfolded – each of which are circumstances any Marines who arrive in combat zones by flying over water could potentially face.

Even the windows on the training equipment are designed to replicate the ways one would have to engage releases on different kinds of aircraft, to ensure the Marines are not only learning how to think and act underwater, but how to effectively manage the manual difficulties associated with escaping a submerged aircraft as it sinks into the sea.

Watch the video below to see how Marines train to escape an aircraft after it’s crashed into the water:

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Image courtesy of YouTube