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Rescue pilots conduct live training exercise on the Susquehanna

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A black hawk helicopter was hovering above the Susquehanna River today. But it wasn’t an emergency. It was a training exercise. With water temperatures in the forties if someone fell in it would take about 10 minutes before they would lose the ability to move. That makes the exercises all the more critical.

Pennsylvania rescue pilots along with the US Army conducted the training exercise on Friday around 11AM on the Susquehanna River near Fort Hunter. They say it’s a lot better to make a mistake during a drill than in an actual rescue. Chief Flight Paramedic Michael Kurtz has been on dozens of rescues, but one memory from hurricane Floyd sticks out.

Kurtz said “rescuing a gentleman that was swept away several times in the Tar River in North Carolina and he was giving up hope. He climbed in a tree after he was swept away. And the water kept rising, swept him off that tree. He was out in the water anywhere from six to eight hours. Significantly hypothermic and it was just a matter of time. He didn’t have much time left.”

Kara Sweger is a full-time teacher who has volunteered her time to help on rescue missions. She said “you’re proud of anytime you can help somebody and save a life. There’s no particular one that makes a difference, they all make a difference.”

For the day both Sweger and Kurtz were two heroes in training, risking their lives to save others.