The Prairieton, Indiana Fire Department has taken ownership of the Neoteric rescue hovercraft formerly employed by the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency in Terre Haute, Indiana. As Dick Setleff, former Emergency Management director said, “It’s about the price of a good motorcycle, and that’s nothing if you can use it to save just one life.”
First responders David Phelps and Ben Cottrell are eager to use the craft for water and ice rescue operations. “There’s a lot of flooding in our area; we’ve rescued a lot of people from stranded vehicles and flooded homes. We’ve had a lot of ice rescues, too,” says Phelps.
Phelps, a 50-year veteran of the Prairieton Fire Department, says, “I’ve known about Neoteric for a long time. And Vigo County Emergency Management used their hovercraft in our area quite a few times. Then we had an opportunity to buy it.”
Cottrell adds, “It has the advantage of going anywhere you want to go. The reverse thrust buckets, those are really nice in maneuvering sideways and going around in circles.”
But buying the rescue hovercraft was just the first step. The very next step was to enroll in a Hovercraft Training Centers pilot and maintenance course. “We had an opportunity to use it on a water rescue, but I opted to wait until we get our training. We want to be sure we know how to do everything properly and not hurt anyone – including ourselves.”
Ben Cottrell (left) and David Phelps (right) receive their hovercraft pilot certifications from Chris Fitzgerald (center).
See photos of their flight training …