DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- In order to survive a crash water landing, aircrew members must train for the unthinkable. Members of the 94th Operations Group recently attended combat and water survival training at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida.
The two-day Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape course prepared members for in and out of the water incidents, in the event of aircraft evacuation.
According to Col. Patrick Campbell, 94th Operations Group commander, this marks the first time this training has completed by aircrew, aeromedical and aircrew flight equipment personnel at the same time.
"Normally, combat-ready mission training is completed on a unit, or individual basis," said Campbell. "This time I wanted operations group members to experience this training together. We want utilize technology to merge ways we've traditionally trained with new ways of doing things."
Members completed SERE, Self Aid Buddy Care, and Combat Survival Training on day one, followed by Water Survival Training at Sigbee Marina on day two.
Master Sgt. Greg Bailleul, Air Force Reserve Command SERE functional manager, said the objective of the training was to make it realistic as possible. He has 21 years of combat and water survival training experience.
"There's a psychological impact to performing water survival training in the ocean, versus your local aquatic center," said Bailleul. Trainees are forced to adapt to the weather conditions, wave currents, and any wildlife they may encounter."
In the event of a downed aircraft, to avoid hypothermia, the first moments are most crucial. Aircrew members simulated maneuvering through a parachute, and mounting onto a 20-man life raft and helicopter lift.
From younger Airmen whom the fly-away served as their first time, to more experienced aircrew whom this served as a refresher, the trip's overall mission was to certify them on their training, and build overall group cohesiveness and morale.
"Putting together a trip such as this involves a number of logistics," said Capt. Nathan Davis, 94th Aeromedical Squadron flight nurse and event coordinator. "The training and morale-building makes it all worth it."
Although hundreds of training scenarios can occur at any given time, the SERE specialists and aircrew flight equipment personnel made every effort to make sure trainees were comfortable with the emergency equipment that was supplied to them on the aircraft.
"We train for events such as these in hopes that we'll never have to use them," said Bailleul. "When a crash water landing occurs, during war or peacetime, we want every one of our Airmen to return with honors."