(Photo | Courtesy of EarthCruiser Overland Vehicles)
Bend-based EarthCruiser Overland Vehicles and their team of expert all-terrain drivers have partnered with the Oregon National Guard (ORARNG) for a specialized training collaboration of tough terrain drills, which troops can encounter when called for disaster relief and emergency response missions. This training program was designed to equip local troops with the practical knowledge of how to problem solve in hands-on trail experiences, and serve as a pilot program for ongoing training.
Unit members of Delta Company 1-186 which represents companies in Ashland, Gresham, Portland, Hood River, Cottage Grove, Medford and Grants Pass, among others were joined for a two-day training in the Grants Pass Woods by overlanding and drive experts: Lance Gillies, founder EarthCruiser USA and overland expert; and Clive Watson, head of EarthCruiser customer training and support.
Gillies tapped his decades of safe overlanding experience and designed, in conjunction with ORARNG leadership, nine specific training scenarios while operating a HMMWV-M-1167 (Up-Armored HMMVV), to meet a variety of objectives. Regarding EarthCruiser’s participation, Gillies said. “EarthCruiser is grateful for the opportunity to do a little for those who do so much for our community when we need it the most.”
“The Oregon Army National Guard is a community-based force and we are always looking for new ways to train our Guard members in real-world experience with scenarios typical in disaster relief, which includes encountering tough terrain while fulfilling missions,” said Sergeant Michael Tieman of the Oregon Army National Guard who helped develop the program with EarthCruiser. “When you look at the latest situations in disasters like fire around the Pacific NW it is only logical that overland training benefits our soldiers and broadens their skills. This serves as a real-world learning opportunity, which the Oregon Army National Guard could face in combat, fires, floods and additional emergency situations not regularly practiced.”
Added Chad Knight, a veteran and Chief Operating Officer at EarthCruiser, “The leadership and expertise of military veterans has been foundational to EarthCruiser’s success. We are continuously looking for opportunities to support our local community, but this event with the Oregon National Guard was very special for us. We feel very fortunate to have developed a set of skills that can provide value to the Guard, and to have the opportunity to work alongside these incredible individuals.”
The program utilized readiness, vehicle skills, and the challenging terrain to optimize disaster relief scenarios, that included: Team-work exercises around vehicle towing, control on descent; detailed communication using hand and arm signals for all events and movements; basic vehicle safety; and a relief effort assisting three stuck vehicles out of a fire hazard area in a mock brush fire exercise.
Some emergency response and disaster relief efforts encounter extreme off-road conditions, often due to environmental impacts such as mudslides, flooding, or off-trail situations. This reality creates a need for specialized training, based on the increasing level of danger encountered in certain disaster and emergency response missions. Navigating the type of hazardous terrain requires vehicles and drivers who know how to navigate through and around a range of potential roadblocks and challenges.
Regional trainings are expected to continue and roll out more broadly to other Guard units around Oregon in coming months and years.
To learn more about this initiative, visit both EarthCruiser and the ORARNG, who will be at the upcoming Overland Expo Pacific Northwest, July 8-10 at the Deschutes County Expo Center in Redmond.
Watch our teaser promo with Sargent Michael Tieman here: