The future for Coast Guard rescue swimmers in Eastern Carolina has arrived at a new state of the art facility in Elizabeth City and offers the most realistic and challenging training a student can face.
The experience is intended to mimic that of a real life chopper crash for future Coast Guardsmen going through the helicopter rescue school's new facility.
James Bogert is an aviation survival technician and says, "We have waves up to 3 feet, we have wind and rain up to 30 knots, we can darken the whole place, we've got a surround sound system that can play anything from helicopters flying over to gunfire, thunder and lightning."
The underwater modular egress trainer, which also includes boat capsizing, is only a small part of the roughly $24-million dollar facility. The other is an Olympic size pool outfitted with an intimidating ropes course and a rig that can simulate jumping from a helicopter, as well as raising people rescued from the ocean.
George Marinkov is a Senior Chief aviation survival technician and says, "That's the beauty of this new complex, the quality of training these students are going to get, the more realistic scenarios they're going to get will prepare them that much more for rescues like the Bounty for instance.
In that rescue in October, aviation survival technicians from the station rescued 14 people from the sinking HMS Bounty. It's a job 27-year-old Airman Kyle Stallings believes he's cut out for. His class of seven is the first to get to use the new equipment.
If all goes well, Airman Stallings and his classmates will graduate in December and would be the 113th class to do so from the school.