Indiana National Guard expands disaster response capabilities with interagency training

By Sgt. Tackora Hand | IN-HART | Oct. 25, 2019

Indianapolis —

This week the Indiana Army National Guard Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team and the South Bend Swift Water Rescue Team joined forces at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center to increase the number of trained IN-HART members within the state. 

IN-HART is a joint multi-agency partnership that includes credentialed civilian rescue technicians and Indiana guardsmen. The team meets monthly for continual training to ensure maximum readiness for disaster situations.

October’s training at MUTC focused on joint search and rescue air-ground missions. The training enhanced capabilities of this unique Hoosier deployable asset.

“Today went great, and the facility offers an opportunity to get real hands-on training and experience from different perspectives both on the hoist and in water,” said South Bend firefighter and new IN-HART recruit Brian Piper. “There is a lot more to hoist operations besides just hanging onto a cable and going down to your target to complete your mission.”

WO1 Benjamin Geyer, a UH-60 pilot and new IN-HART recruit, said the opportunity to train with this premier group as a newer pilot was challenging and surreal, but also a successful mission and important teaching tool.

“When I’m in the cockpit listening to the communications over the radio with the wind blowing, I think about the person on the hoist getting blown around,” said Geyer. “Without much of a visual I'm just trying to ensure I don't over correct. It’s important to remain steady without making a twist or turn worse.”

South Bend firefighter, Capt. Dave Pritz, said the simulated missions trained and tested the Swift Water Rescue Team members and Hoosier guardsmen beyond hoist operations.

“We did more than just basic hoist operations. Over the two days we worked within confined spaces, used a rescue basket and litter,” said Pritz, who was also new IN-HART recruit. “Having the opportunity to be here and perform these operations before the real deal is a great advantage.”

IN-HART stands ready to respond to natural and manmade disasters at a moment’s notice both within the state of Indiana and nationally.