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NEWS | Dec. 15, 2021

Tennessee Guard, firefighters practice water hoist rescue

By Capt. Kealy Moriarty, Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Rescue personnel from the Tennessee National Guard’s 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion and the Nashville Fire Department held a joint exercise Dec. 14 to practice hoist operations.

The Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team included a UH-60 Black Hawk four-member crew with three Nashville firefighters who specialize in hoist rescue. The HART team trains monthly on a variety of rescue missions. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is also a partner in the HART team and trains with the Nashville Fire Department and Tennessee National Guard.

“We practice nearly every week with the Nashville Fire Department to rehearse rescue operations,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Rumsey, 1-230th’s lead crew chief and hoist operator for the HART team. “We each spend a year training to become qualified and then practice hoist rescue missions in open water, moving water, on land or rooftops, and in confined spaces – we practice in the hard-to-reach places to prepare for worst-case scenarios.”

The HART team practiced rescuing two simulated drowning victims in Old Hickory Lake between Goodlettsville and Hendersonville by lowering a firefighter from 70 feet into the water. The firefighter secured a simulated victim and the helicopter crew chief hoisted them to safety. The team practiced six iterations, each entering the scenario at a different approach angle.

“This partner agency training helps keep everyone in sync and it allows us to train for realistic situations we could encounter,” said Nashville Fire Department Capt. Michael Armistead. “The more we train, the better we become, and this ultimately will help save lives in any emergency situation.”

The Tennessee National Guard and Nashville Fire Department HART team has completed two rescue and recovery missions this year and plans to continue training together throughout the winter.