Kentucky Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen get “high speed” safety training for all terrain vehicles

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Polaris Training

Soldiers navigate their All Terrain - Ultra Light Tactical Vehicles (AT-ULTVs) – aka, Polaris Ranger Crews – around obstacles on Bluegrass Army Depot. (Photo by Staff Sgt. James Shackelford)

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RICHMOND, Ky. (July 7, 2011) – One thing’s for certain: these sure aren’t your average four-wheelers!

Polaris Training

Mike Cooney of Polaris Defense instructs Kentucky Guardsman on the proper use and maintenance of their vehicles. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Joshua Witt, State Safety and Occupational Health Manager.)

The military term is “All Terrain – Ultra Light Tactical Vehicles” (AT-ULTVs) but they’re more commonly referred to as Polaris Ranger Crews.   And compared to most military vehicles they’re different in almost every way.  What other vehicle do you know that has a 4,500 pound winch, on-demand all wheel drive, seating for six including the driver – and is the size an oversized go kart?

Driving one is no simple matter.  A two day Master Driver Certification Course was conducted at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Richmond on July 6-7 to prepare drivers for the safe employment of AT-ULTVs in support of Guard missions.  Guardsmen participated from the 299th Chemical Company in Maysville, 301st Chemical Company in Morehead, 103rd Chemical Battalion in Richmond and 41st Civil Support Team in Louisville.

Retired Army Special Forces Master Sgt. Mike Cooney of Polaris Defense led the 16 Guardsmen through the intensive hands-on training program.  Students received instruction not only on Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS), but also off-road driving at the Intermediate and Advanced level.

To everyone’s delight, most class time was spent in the field!  Troops took turns behind “the wheel” as they learned how to safely negotiate obstacles and conduct recovery operations.

“The best way to learn is by doing,” said 1st Sgt. James Dollar, 41st CST.  “This course is step one as we prepare to train and license our operators.”

Polaris Training

Staff Sgt. Dutch Chapman and Staff Sgt. Michael Smith conduct a preventative maintenance check on their equipment before a day of field training. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Joshua Witt, State Safety and Occupational Health Manager.)

“By completing the MDCC, Guardsmen become more confident in the abilities of the equipment.  They better understand how to safely employ the Ranger Crew in potentially dangerous situations,” said Cooney.

Mr. Cooney taught the course last year for 24 surface maintenance Soldiers at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville.  With this year’s crop of graduates Kentucky now has over 40 certified master drivers and continues to actively promote AT-ULTV safety.

One other note:  The Kentucky Guard Specialty Vehicle Safety SOP (July 2010) is so successful that it’s been used by Polaris Defense as a model for other states to follow.

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