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15 February 2017

Fire Department says hovercraft training has “paid off”

In 2015, Iowa’s Council Bluffs Fire Department purchased a new 6-passenger Neoteric rescue hovercraft. Immediately their first responders completed a Flight Training Course at Hovercraft Training Centers, which included flood rescue techniques on the Wabash River, then at 22.8 ft. flood stage.

The steep Wabash River boat ramp is submerged in water all the way to the parking lot
as Council Bluffs’ first responders begin their training.
After their pilot training, Fire Chief Justin James reported, “It was awesome being able to operate in deep and shallow flood water without having to worry about destroying a motor or a boat. We also got to train rescuing victims that may be stranded in trees or roofs of homes due to rising waters. We simply used the craft to hover into and hold position near these real obstacles.”

In less than a month, their training started paying off, with the rescue of a man from a muddy flooded river, with more than 60 feet of deep mud and 20 feet of shallow water to cross before reaching him. Chief James said, “The amount of time it took us to get out there would have been drastically longer if we didn’t have the hovercraft.

And two years later, Council Bluffs’ flight training and rescue hovercraft are still proving their worth. Last weekend the department rescued a fisherman who had fallen through the ice and was submerged in frigid water while clinging to the ice shelf. Capt. Jim Maaske said their hovercraft let the rescuers find the man quickly and hover directly to him without putting themselves at risk … and added, “All the training paid off today.”

Council Bluffs Fire Dept. takes a quick test flight after a successful ice rescue Feb. 11 on Lake Manawa.

First Responders:

See Hovercraft Training Centers & Neoteric Hovercraft at FDIC 2017, Booth 2704
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(Valued at $1,575 each)