published: 11 April 2013
WATERLOO, Neb. —The Waterloo Fire Department is testing a new piece of equipment to help with water rescues along the Elkhorn River.
A new airboat is capable of reaching speeds up to 50 mph and will soon be able to operate under harsh Midwestern conditions.
“It is very safe. It will be able to put rescuers in any climate — snow, rain, wind, lightning,” said Waterloo Fire Chief Travis Harlow.
Harlow said once the airboat has been broken in, it will be equipped with the latest high-tech gear.
“It will have sonar in it for searching for a body underwater. It will also have night vision,” he said.
The enclosed cab and high speeds will help rescuers get to their victims faster and safer.
“This boat, when you are making sharp turns and maneuvers, it will not allow water to take on,” Harlow said.
The Waterloo and Valley fire departments responded to 42 rescue calls in their coverage areas. Officials hope they don’t have to use their new airboat as much this year.
The airboat is owned by the Tri County Mutual Aid area and will be based and operated through Waterloo Fire.