20 February, 2014

First responders rely on hovercraft for ice rescues

Ice rescue missions may be at an all-time high this winter. It’s been so cold for so long that the Great Lakes, which hold nearly one-fifth of the surface fresh water in the world, are almost completely covered with ice for the first time in two decades. In spite of the cold, these conditions bring out skaters, snowmobilers and ice fishermen - who regularly fall through thin ice.

Time is of the essence in ice rescues; shock and hypothermia can occur in minutes … and traditional ice rescue techniques simply take too long. And much of the traditional ice rescue equipment, such as inflatable walkways, sleds and ropes, can place first responders in as much danger as the people they’re trying to rescue.

But hovercraft, since they fly nine inches above the surface, keep first responders above the danger. Hovercraft are the only vehicle that can speed easily over thin or broken ice; other rescue vehicles can only be launched on solid ice at least 5 inches thick. And the Neoteric HoverTrek, with its patented reverse thrust that lets it brake and back up, is the most versatile hovercraft available for ice rescue operations.

Neoteric and Hovercraft Training Centers regularly train first responders throughout the world to conduct safe and successful ice rescues. Here are a few photos of a recent ice rescue practice on Lake Monroe, the largest lake in Indiana. With below-freezing temperatures and a lake covered with snow and ice of inconsistent thickness, these were perfect conditions for ice rescue training …

Three Neoteric hovercraft, left to right: Hovercraft Training Centers’ hovercraft, the Hazleton Fire Department’s rescue hovercraft, and flight instructor Steve Stafford’s personal hovercraft are ready to launch on Lake Monroe. 

The lake ice varied from solid to thin and broken – surface conditions that prohibit the use of any other vehicle. 

During the day, the three hovercraft cruised the entire length of the largest lake in Indiana, regardless of ice conditions.

Jeff Splittorf of the Hazleton Fire Department stands aboard the department’s 6-passenger Neoteric rescue hovercraft.

Steve Stafford’s hovercraft with a cabin offered him some protection from the brutal weather. 

The Hazleton Fire Department’s Neoteric hovercraft flies easily across the snow and ice.

Rachel Hyneman of the Hazleton Fire Department felt that braving the cold weather was worth it, making the department even more prepared for successful ice rescues with a professionally trained crew and the most maneuverable hovercraft available.

Would a hovercraft improve your department's rescue capabilities?
Find out with a Test Flight or Training Course

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