published: 2 July 2020
by: Michael Shively
PIERCE, NE — Northeast Nebraska first responders now have another tool to perform rescues.
The Pierce Fire Department recently added an airboat to its arsenal. After last year’s floods, Fire Chief Steve Dolesh says the airboat is a crucial tool.
“I think it’s imperative,” Dolesh said. “With Norfolk Fire having a connector boat, Pierce Fire having an airboat and the equipment between the two departments and a few of the departments around, I think we have northeast Nebraska for sure covered very well.”
Dolesh says first responders weren’t equipped for the volume of water rescues during the 2019 flood. Pierce Rescue turned to a citizen’s airboat to save five people in Pierce and four in the Hadar area.
Now, Dolesh says 10 people will be trained to pilot the department’s airboat.
“Everybody will be trained to operate the boat, everybody will go through a boat rescue class and a boat safety class before we make them a pilot,” Dolesh said.
Dolesh says the community rallied to fund the purchase of the boat. The department also bought ice rescue suits, dry suits and helmets.
“So I really believe that with all the departments involved, we’ve got the area covered very well for any type of water, ice rescue, anything of that nature,” Dolesh said.
Training with the airboat is underway on Willow Creek Reservoir and the Elkhorn River.