Pittsboro, NC – On September 23-24, 2020, Chatham County Emergency Management, Chatham County Emergency Communications, Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, North Chatham Volunteer Fire Department and Chatham County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) partnered with several other local and state agencies to practice water rescues at Jordan Lake.
The training is part of the North Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) program. NCHART is a highly specialized team consisting of N.C. National Guard and N.C. State Highway Patrol aircraft and aircrews along with N.C. Emergency Management and local first responders. The team is always ready to lead the way with helicopter-based missions such as swiftwater/flood, urban and mountain rescues.
“This exercise is invaluable, because it’s not something we can replicate in a classroom setting,” said Chatham County Emergency Management Director Steve Newton. “Not only does the training allow us to go through realistic water-rescue scenarios, at also enables us to collaborate and communicate with other agencies which is similar to what would occur during a natural disaster or other emergency.”
During the training, response agency members participated as “survivors” floating in Jordan Lake. Two Highway Patrol helicopters flew overhead with HART technicians hanging below. With each pass, the survivors were short hauled out of the water and delivered to shore.
“It takes exhaustive training to achieve this level of precision and synchronization, but the remarkable teamwork involved makes it look effortless,” says Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson. “These training exercises help ensure rescuers remain safe in real-life operations during critical events or disasters.”
NCHART can respond at the request of a local emergency management coordinator or N.C. Emergency Management Area Coordinator upon approval by the NCEM Director. The public can learn more about the NCHART program on the N.C. Department of Public Safety website.