Aquatic rescue team trains for when disaster strikes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Emergency crews from across the state took to the skies and water for a day of training at Fort Hunter Park.

“Basically, what we’re practicing for is like a complete hurricane-type situation,” said Lt. Colonel Lawrence P. Furlong, assistant director at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Members of the Fish and Boat Commission, PEMA, and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard form the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team.

Once a year, the team meets at Fort Hunter Park to prepare for when disaster strikes.

“It’s very real world. We try to plan everything far and ahead to mitigate risk,” said Ryan Walt with the Fish and Boat Commission.

Rescue technicians keep one important lesson in mind while training on boats and helicopters.

“We all practice safety. We have codes, we have commands, and if anything happens, we will call out safety, safety, safety,” Furlong said. “And everyone kind of stops what they’re doing until we do a check to make sure everything is all right.”

The training doesn’t happen all in one day. It often takes years before a rescuer is ready for a real-life scenario.

“One of the things that folks back home can take from this is just knowing that there are agencies out there – local, state and federal – that are training for that bad day to come,” Walt said.

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