posted: 14 July 2016
by: Leah Durain
Texas Game Wardens are key when natural disasters strike. You probably saw them making high water rescues during the massive flooding last spring. A special airboat training session this week is helping sharpen their skills.
Airboats whizz back and forth on the Steinhagen Reservoir. Texas Game Wardens are conducting a mock search and rescue operation as part of a multi-day training session to enhance their skills.
“Airboats are a critical tool,” said Game Warden Will Plumas. “Probably the most beneficial thing about an airboat is …you could transition from water environment to dry land and back again.”
Airboats offer great versatility and were recently used following widespread flooding along the Sabine and Neches rivers this last spring.
“They did everything from rescues to patrolling neighborhoods for anti-looting,” said Plumas. “There’s no way we could’ve done that without these machines. There’s just no way to get in there unless you have an airboat.”
While useful, Plumas says airboats are more dangerous than traditional watercraft.
“Their engine sits up high which means that their center of gravity is a lot higher. They’re more susceptible to swamping and tipping,” said Plumas.
Mark Dupont with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrations is one of five instructors out on the water. He’s ensuring the 20 game wardens gets top notch training.
“A standard of training is important to ensure that the operators and the crew members know how to do the job right, how to do it safely and how to do it efficiently,” said Dupont.
The Game Wardens are catching on fast.
“Those are skills that they can apply instantly if they get called out tomorrow to do these types of jobs,” said Dupont.
Texas is the first state to have an airboat training session to this extent. Plumas says similar programs will soon be rolled out nationwide.