Rescue Inc. showcases its preparedness

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WEST TOWNSHEND — Rescue Inc. is in the business of worst-case scenarios.

"We've got a lot of things that are going to help the community, preparing people for what could happen," Drew Hazelton, chief of operations at Rescue Inc., said Sunday during an open house event at the West Townshend station.

Showing how English reeves in a highline system are used for lifting people over fast moving water or between cliffs, Hazelton pulled ropes to move an emergency rescue sled and said, "The work is all done from one side, which has great advantages. Plus, it makes a great kid's toy."

His squad began flying drones after their aircraft returned from a search mission at Somerset Reservoir. A Bennington woman and her son had last been seen at the site.

The drones assist in locating individuals or bringing in materials such as life jackets. They were purchased with donated funds from the rotary clubs in Brattleboro and the Deerfield Valley.

"It's neat stuff," Hazelton said. "It doesn't solve everything."

The drones can be programmed to fly in a certain pattern and pick up "heat signatures" via infrared imagery, he said, showing video of how evidence was collected for an incident at Harriman Reservoir in Wilmington and prevented divers from having to go out on the ice. The missing parties had ended up going home and did not need to be rescued.

The Federal Aviation Administration allows for drones to be flown 400 feet high. One demonstration Sunday saw a drone flying at about 200 feet above.

"It's a really cool use of technology," said Casey Walsh, emergency medical technician at Rescue Inc.,

Walsh has a drone at home and uses it as a hobbyist like others. He said the best purpose for the aircraft is rescue.

Hazelton said his crew's two boats have special pump-jet motors, allowing them to travel close to rescue swimmers and through shallow waters or rapids. He sees understanding the flow and force of a river as "the most important skill" for boat operators and rescue swimmers.

"If you use brute force, you get frustrated," he said.

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Boat operators must get certified as a rescue swimmer first. Hazelton estimated eight members of Rescue Inc. had qualified in April for running the boats. He expects to two more to do so over the summer. At most times, he said, his group has 12 to 14 qualified rescue swimmers.

Staff at Rescue Inc. have been trained for live fire or mass shooting events. They carry ballistic vests and kits to help control bleeding.

Hazelton said at one training, crew members were shot with paintballs so they would know "they didn't keep their heads down."

By his count, about 650 local individuals have participated in two-hour Stop the Bleed classes since November. The list includes schools, fire departments, private companies, boy scouts, girl scouts and youth groups.

With a grant from the Vermont Department of Labor, Rescue Inc. will be offering a free EMT course in the fall. With a lot of local squads struggling with membership, Hazelton said, the idea is to entice more personnel to join. The normal cost for such a training can range from $700 to $900.

Three mannequins used for cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR were purchased with a grant from the Thomas Thompson Trust. They evaluate how the person performing the CPR does by giving heart and breathing rates.

Hazelton is "a great guy," said Linda Bastian, scoutmaster for Troop 428, which includes members from Jamaica, Newfane, Townshend, Wardsboro and Windham. "He's been wonderful."

Scouts use a climbing wall and meeting space at the facility. They also participate in training sessions.

On Sunday, burgers were grilled in the driveway and served to attendees.

"We've got a cooler full," said Win Clark, board member at Rescue Inc.

He said the event is hosted annually, alternating between the squad's facilities in Brattleboro and West Townshend. The West Townshend station had been built three years ago.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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