Michigan Airmen conduct water survival training with Navy, Coast Guard assist

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samara Taylor
  • 127th Wing
Airmen of the 171st Air Refueling Squadron and the 107th Fighter Squadron conducted a two-day training at this Navy station in Florida, refreshing their emergency survival skills.

More than 100 Airmen from Selfridge Air National Guard Base were involved in Patriot Sands.

"We wanted to create a realistic training environment that was safe and controlled," said Master Sgt. Earl Anzano, 171st ARS, lead training instructor. "This wouldn't have been possible without the support from the Coast Guard and the Navy."

Aircrew-assigned Airmen must undergo water survival and combat training every three years to maintain the qualification.

The first day of the training focused on land combat survival, which consisted of the aircrew training on immediate actions upon landing, creating shelter and fire, signaling, land navigation and other skills that would be necessary for survival in an emergency.

The second day of the training took place in the Pensacola Bay. During the training the pilots were attached to a rope and pulled into the water from a dock to simulate being pulled by a parachute. The next station consisted of the canopy crawl which replicates the crew landing in the water and finding their way out from under a parachute. At a third station, the pilots had to enter a life raft to learn various techniques for survival on the water. The fourth station entailed a simulation of the aircrew members being rescued by helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Unit located in Mobile, Ala. The Airmen were assisted by Navy rescue swimmers to reach the Coast Guard helicopter for a simulated rescue. Airmen were lifted up about half way to the helicopter then released to swim back to awaiting inflatable raft. In the final station, the aircrew members experienced parasailing. They were attached to a specifically designed canopy to simulate a parachute and towed behind a boat to mimic the aircrew members parachuting from an aircraft.
The joint services water survival operation took place at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola. 

"It was a pleasure working with the team" said AWS1 Kyle Cannon, a Naval air crewman and one of the safety swimmers with the Naval Aviation School Command.
This training was considered the most realistic training as previous trainings over the years were conducted at a local water park and in Lake St. Clair near home station at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.

"The training dealt with various stressors in an emergency in the most realistic situation" said Major Sami Zamzam a flight surgeon with the 171st Air Refueling Squadron.