How do airline crews train for an emergency?

As many readers know, airline crews train regularly on what to do in an emergency. Airlines offer realistic simulators to pilots and flight attendants, who must show they can react if a plane crashes or lands at sea.  Passengers should be off the aircraft in 90 seconds. 

Recently, Chris Manno, a 737 pilot at a major carrier, put a picture of his airline's training center on Twitter. As you can see, the swimming pool is meant to stand in for the ocean. 

At my last job, as a reporter at the Los Angeles Daily News, I took part in a water evacuation course for flight attendants on corporate jets.  It was a lot more difficult than I expected. The life jackets are flimsy and being thrown into the water is disorienting. The life jackets are also more difficult to inflate than you might expect, since you're not supposed to inflate them on the aircraft. And if you need more air in your life jacket, you're supposed to blow into the tubes -- hard to do while bobbing in the water.

The private training company I trained with -- called Aircare Solutions Group -- asks crew members to try to escape a contraption they call the underwater dunker.  Basically, it simulates what it would be like to be caught underwater belted into an airplane seat. (Having escaped from this contraption, I can tell you it's a terrifying experience.)

Below, an Aircare Solutions Group executive explains to me how the dunker works.  

And below, a student shows how it works in the pool. (I also participated on this day, but my rise to the surface was not nearly so graceful.)