LAKE CITY – On Friday, Sept. 6, at around 10 a.m., the Lake City Fire Co. coordinated a rescue drill in Lake City involving Fuller Hose Co., the Crawford County Scuba Team, Lake Shore Fire Department and Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (PA-HART).
The purpose of the drill was to make sure that these teams could be called upon by the state if a natural disaster affected Pennsylvania.
In conjunction with PA-HART, local rescue teams showed that they could not only move from their station, but move boat packages through Blackhawk helicopters while being inserted into different areas.
The official name of the drill was “PA-HART Training Exercise Lake Erie Flooding Hoisting and Swiftwater Rescue Team Movements.”
PA-HART is a joint partnership between the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and credentialed civilian rescue technicians.
“It has been a long time coming to get to this level,” Lake City Fire Chief Tom Hosack said.
Hosack was in charge of coordinating the event and hopes to do more similar exercises in the future with his team of volunteers.
“This was our first opportunity to train in this type of exercise and are thankful for being invited to participate,” said Chris Skrekla, Fuller Hose Co.’s Water Rescue Team assistant team leader. “We were able to identify our team’s strengths and additional training we are in need of to advance the team to the next level. We are proud to represent North East in the commonwealth and the willingness of our members to help citizens in need during flooding emergencies in PA.”
Starting near the Lake City fire station, those participating in the exercise were flown to Elk Creek Access, where they grappled from helicopters and carried out boat rescue techniques.
“What we try to do is start at the local level. We have heavy flooding in Pennsylvania, so we prepare for local flooding, regional flooding and state flooding,” Senior Strike Team Leader Scott Grahn said.
Grahn also said that his team prepares for disasters on a national level, such as the recent hurricanes.
“We were down in Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Matthew. We’re trying to make sure we’re prepared because when our ticket gets pulled to go, we go,” Grahn said. “Our ticket didn’t get pulled for Hurricane Dorian, but we’ll be prepared for the next one.”