GUERNSEY STATE PARK – Members of the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 187th Airlift and Aeromedical Evacuation Squadrons spent an afternoon here Aug. 9 to fine-tune their land and water survival skills. The 153rd Aircrew Flight Equipment instructors put the airmen through several scenarios to ensure if the aircrews did find themselves in an open water situation or other hostile environments, they would have the know-how to survive.
The instructors covered both open water and land training, simulating survival tactics the aircrews would need to know in order to survive.
“We go over instructions on once the aircraft does go down into water, what to eat, what not to eat, how to signal for help, how to evade, and how to use the equipment,” said Tech. Sgt. Ricky Cruz, 153rd Aircrew Flight Equipment technician and one of the instructors.
For the water portion of the training the approximately 20 airmen practiced boarding a 20-person raft, canopy disentanglement and releasing canopies from their harness once in the water. AFE offers the open water survival training once a year. Aircrews must take it once every three years.
“This is mostly refresher training, they have already been through this training at [Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape], said Cruz. “We remind them how to use our gear, to remind them of the proper procedures when you do go down over water.”
The instructors attempted to make the training as realistic as possible by using the Guernsey Reservoir, a 2,400-acre body of water, as the backdrop for the day’s activities.
“It’s a great refresher, for all the stuff we learned in initial training. I mean, you forget, because you don’t use this every day,” said Capt. Chris Hendricks, a flight nurse with the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. “It’s just good to use the actual equipment, get wet, and do the real stuff.”
While the aircrews are going through the training the instructors are making sure the lessons, that could one day save their lives, stick.
“The best part is when we get answers from them, they relay back to us exactly what we’ve taught them,” said Staff Sgt. Emily Olguin, AFE technician. “Honestly the best part is when you hear them retain the information.”
The group of airmen did get some curious looks by some of the others using the reservoir for recreational activities, the trainers knew it was worth it to make the trip to the state park.
“I like instructing survival,” said Cruz. “You learn a lot of cool information, little tricks here and there. It’s always good to get outside get away from the shop, get in the water. It definitely heightens morale, that’s for sure.”
Top: Aircrew members of the 153rd AW practice canopy disentanglement at Guernsey Reservoir. Photos by Master Sgt. Dan Butterfield
Below: Lt.Col. JP Sicotte, a navigator with the 187th Airlift Squadron demonstrates how to wear a anti-exposure suit during water survival training at Guernsey Resevoir.