By PV2 Oscar Cano:
SMYRNA, Georgia, July 16, 2016 – A group of 11 soldiers across different units of the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) recently participated in a water survival training course aimed to expand their skills when operating in or near bodies of water.
This type of training is conducted to build GSDF soldiers’ confidence for waterborne operations as well as to prepare troop leaders on how to operate around water, but most importantly, to teach them what protective measures are necessary to ensure the safety of every soldier around water.
Participants learned and demonstrated through a series of evolutions, several different skills needed to survive in waterborne activities. Examples included how to waterproof the rucksack, how to make water entries, maintaining buoyancy in full gear, use of personal safety and water survival techniques, how to assist other soldiers in the water and many others detailed in the Army’s TC 21-21 Water Survival Training. In addition, other GSDF specific topics related to water rescue were instructed, which included the proper rope throwing techniques to drowning victims in the water.
To counter the tendency of panicking when unexpectedly entering water — CW4 Lloyd Garrard, who was the lead course instructor with the assistance of MSG Wade Price — emphasized the use of the SAFE principle. Doing so, reminds soldiers of the fundamentals of swimming survival:
S – Slow, easy movement
A – Apply natural buoyancy
F – Full lung inflation
E – Extreme relaxation
“The ability to survive if you fall into water wearing your uniform and gear as we perform Search and Rescue (SAR) operations is imperative” said CW4 Garrard who also was instrumental in the development of the course to GSDF soldiers.
CW4 Garrard also noted that “having fear and anxiety around water and during waterborne operations can be disastrous if it gets out of control, but successfully completing this program removes most of the fear of having a problem in or around water and builds confidence in our soldiers”.
At the end of the day, all participating soldiers were able to execute with confidence several water survival techniques and learned many valuable lessons from the instructors. Upon completion of the course, SPC Jonathan Melko of 76th BDE / 911th BN said “It was one of the best training I have received in the GSDF”.
Both CW4 Garrard and MSG Price are currently assigned to GSDF G3’s office.