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178th Airmen gain swift water rescue skills

photo of Airmen on boat rescuing victim in water during training exercise

Airmen with the 178th Civil Engineering Squadron train for swift water rescue missions May 17, 2019 at Ellis Dam in Zanesville, Ohio. This certification training allows the 178th Wing to be one of the first, fully operational Air National Guard units to provide these real-world rescue services during times of need. 178th CES Airmen learned how to understand river currents, operate rescue boats and save lives of individuals affected by swift water disasters. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Simones)

ZANESVILLE, Ohio-- Airmen with the 178th Civil Engineering Squadron participated in a five-day swift water rescue course, May 13-17 at different waterfront locations throughout Ohio.

The training took them from dams in Englewood to Zanesville in order to gain unique skills that allow them to lead the way in Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) missions for the Air National Guard.

“It’s pretty exciting we are one of the first Air National Guard firefighting units to go through this training,” said Austin Hutchins, a firefighter with the 178th CES. “This allows the 178th to set the standard for other units.”

The swift water rescue training taught Airmen to navigate tough currents, operate rescue boats, apply rope rescue techniques, rescue victims from the water and work together as a team to succeed.

“We learned how to recover victims and we familiarized ourselves with how to use all of our new equipment,” said Hutchins. “This training allows us to help more people out and we will become more useful during flood and hurricane seasons.”

The swift water rescue mission is crucial during times of natural disaster. The certification these Airmen received allows them to assist other states in times of need. This training sets 178th CES Airmen apart and provides enhanced capabilities for US&R missions around the nation.

“The training was great because we gained experience using boats we had not used before,” said Staff Sgt. Dustin Spaulding, a firefighter with the 178th CES. “These skills are definitely new and it will be exciting to see what it brings for us.”

US&R missions help to locate, rescue and initialize medical treatment for victims of accidents or natural disasters that find themselves trapped in a hazardous situation.

“These boats allow us to get to victims that may be trapped in a flood or on the roof of a house during a natural disaster,” said Spaulding. “We also learned how to pick people up out of the water with the current and how to maneuver the boats in this type of current.”

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