Reserve Citizen Airmen Practice Water Survival Training at Patrick Air Force Base

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aircrew began their drill weekend with academic instruction

Aircrew from the 39th Rescue Squadron board a life raft during water survival training at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The training honed procedures and provided an opportunity to practice with the tools necessary for surviving an aircraft mishap over water. (U.S. Air Force image)

BREVARD COUNTY • PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA – More than 30 Reserve Citizen Airmen participated in water survival training at Patrick Air Force Base last week to hone the skills needed in an emergency water landing.

The aircrew from the 301st and 39th Rescue Squadrons began their drill weekend with academic instruction from survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists from the 308th Rescue Squadron.

The instructors detailed dangerous situations Reserve Citizen Airmen may face if their airplane or helicopter hit water. After, the crews made their way to a tower simulating helicopter rescues at sea using three types of hoist maneuvers.

Following the hoist training, helicopter pilots headed to a pool where they were strapped inside a small cage equipped with a seat and harness.

The cages were flipped upside down and the pilots were trained on egress procedures, simulating escaping from a helicopter crash underwater.

Aircrew from the 39th Rescue Squadron swim towards a life raft  during water survival training at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The training honed procedures and provided an opportunity to practice with the tools necessary for surviving an aircraft mishap over water. (U.S. Air Force image)

“It’s important to know what we’re going to do if we end up in a survival situation,” said Capt. Kalym De Jesus, helicopter pilot with the 39th Rescue Squadron from Puerto Rico. “The more realistic the training the better off you’ll be in real life.”

The training continued along the Banana River where Airmen treaded water while making their way to life rafts strategically staged by members of the 920th Operations Support Squadron Air Crew Flight Equipment shop.

Emulating rough seas or a malfunctioning life raft deployment, the reservist intentionally capsized their life rafts to practice flipping them back over.

With waterlogged uniforms, reservists climbed aboard orange life rafts; each reaching back to help the teammate waiting patiently behind them.

Master Sgt. Ben Domian, 308th Rescue Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape instructor, pulls a parachute during water survival training  at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The training honed procedures and provided an opportunity to practice with the tools necessary for surviving an aircraft mishap over water. (U.S. Air Force image)

Tech Sgt. Rodger Reynolds, 39th Rescue Squadron loadmaster from Winter Park, Florida, said, “The hands on training is a plus because you gain experience with items that can save your life. When you’re around your crew and you’re working together out in the water, that’s the best part.”

Other open water survival drills included patching holes and transforming the rafts into tents. As the day progressed, crewmembers assigned to 39th RQS’s HC-130N King aircraft learned to escape their parachutes underwater. They also practiced parachute releases while a boat towed them from behind.

According to Tech. Sgt. Jarrod Burgess AFE Life Support technician from the 920th OSS, rescue Airmen have an especially hazardous responsibility of executing combat-search -and-rescue missions around the world and water survival training is an essential part of their curriculum.

“Training can mean the difference between life and death,” Burgess added.

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