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Fort Bliss helicopter crews train underwater before Puerto Rico humanitarian mission

Helicopter training simulates Fort Bliss soldiers having to escape underwater ahead of Puerto Rico humanitarian mission.

Fort Bliss plans to send soldiers to Puerto Rico to help with humanitarian relief after Hurricane Maria caused serious damage on the island. Soldiers on the helicopter crews trained in the pool on Friday, simulating how to get out of their aircraft if it lands or crashes at sea.

"The first thing is they call that you're ditching, ditching ditching, which is our sign that we're going to be going into the water," Chief Warrant Officer 2 Samantha Palmer said.

The training is designed to be as realistic as possible. The cages the soldiers are strapped into simulate the seats inside their helicopters, according to Palmer.


"All the weight's on the top of the aircraft, so if you were to hit water, you'd flip upside down. So, you have to do it upside down," Spc. Jerald Triggs said.

The soldiers spent Friday morning in the classroom, learning the right steps to escape before practicing in the pool.

"(This training's) very crucial," Triggs said. "It feels pretty quick, maybe 30-45 seconds. If you panic, chances are you won't remember your training."

The soldiers want to be as prepared as possible before they leave for Puerto Rico, Palmer said.

"We haven't had an opportunity to go to Puerto Rico (before), so it's going into an area where we're unsure of the actual conditions and the flying conditions down there," Palmer said. "You really have to rely on your training, and that's what we're doing here."

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