The spring melt is well underway in many parts of the world, and those areas where first responders have a Neoteric hovercraft available for ice rescues are exceptionally well-prepared. Those that don’t? Well, you might want to watch this video about the Moncton Fire Department in Canada …
Moncton’s first responders are not only equipped with the most effective ice, mud and water rescue vehicle available, they’ve thoroughly trained to use it. When they purchased their craft in 2012, Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald, who is Hovercraft Training Centers’ Senior Flight Instructor, traveled to Canada with HTC Flight Instructor Steve Stafford to conduct intensive pilot training on Moncton’s new 6-passenger rescue hovercraft.
Moncton’s training was interesting – it included having the hovercraft run over a firefighter! Canada’s Global News reported, “Moncton Fire Department Captain Steve Crawford said it was a “strange sensation” to have the department’s new hovercraft run him over in the city’s McLaughlin Road reservoir yesterday. Crawford played the victim in a demonstration of its latest piece of high-tech emergency equipment. Wearing a helmet and life jacket, he was dropped into the water, and then the hovercraft, piloted by Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc. founder Chris Fitzgerald, flew out to rescue him. To demonstrate just how safe the craft is, Fitzgerald literally drove over Crawford before the sopping wet firefighter was scooped out of the water.”
“You know it’s not going to hurt you, but it’s a strange sensation to have any sort of craft fly over you,” Crawford said.
During training, Fire Chief Eric Arsenault said the hovercraft is a “great addition to our toolbox,” adding it is quicker to deploy than a boat. The hovercraft can be taken from its trailer and be in the water in minutes.
Hundreds of people die in ice-related accidents each year in the United States alone, but many fire departments and rescue organizations haven’t yet recognized the importance of hovercraft as an ice, mud and water rescue tool. “You need fire departments like Moncton that are prepared to be first adopters,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re really pioneers.”
How can your department determine if a hovercraft would improve you first responders’ rescue capabilities? An easy, low-cost way is to take a hovercraft Test Flight or Flight Training Course.