With the help of Council Bluffs FD, the Omaha Fire Dept. will have a new way to save people from drowning for the first time. The OFD Dive and Rescue team learned how to use a hovercraft on Friday.
The Council Bluffs Fire Dept. put their hovercraft in Carter Lake to get firefighters familiar with the technology, and train with it. CBFD has had their Air-Cushion Vehicle since June and has used it on 4 rescues.
They say it will cut a lot of time off certain water and ice rescues because sometimes conditions are so bad that divers have to swim to the patient and back. Now they can float from water to ice with ease. Though ice rescues don’t happen often, the minutes can be the difference between life and death.
“The way we look at it is we are mutual aid with Omaha for rescue situations when we need a dive team, and we like to add a tool to the toolbox that they don’t have that makes both departments work together since we’re kind of a big metro area,” said CB Fire Chief Justin James.
They most recently used the hovercraft during a Missouri River rescue on January 25th. Not only can it help during ice rescues, but also in choppy river water and low level flooding.
The CBFD says they plan to have 3 hovercraft training sessions with OFD.