Simulated Ice Rescue

While we were in the big tent with the snow and ice sculptures of the mercedes and the moose, we heard a loudspeaker announcement that there was about to be a demonstration of a rescue by a Coast Guard helicopter.

The helicopter was on display on the ground when we got to the place. One of the coast guardsmen had opened the door for us to look and told me about how it worked — normally a crew of four, a pilot in the right-hand front seat, a navigator in the left-hand front seat, and two people in back, one to handle the winch for rescue operations and — well, I guess I’m not clear on what the fourth one does, but also on the rescue side rather than the aircraft operation side. Maybe more like a paramedic? I guess I’m not clear on that.

When we heard the announcement about the simulated rescue demonstration, we went over to the lakeshore to look. The helicopter was warming up, and took off after a couple of minutes. The announcement had included a warning to clear the area where the rescue was going to be, because the prop wash under the helicopter would be kicking up a lot of ice and snow. Sure enough!

Pretty soon we saw a pair of feet dangling off the far side of the aircraft. A guy came down out of the plane on a cable, landed on the ice, and unhooked himself from the cable. The helicopter circled over the area a couple of times more (I guess to show us that it could really find someone who needed to be rescued, rather than only being able to pick up someone it had dropped off in a spot where it was hovering). The guy on the ice set off a smoke marker/flare combination —

— and the helicopter returned. Pretty soon the helicopter crew had lowered the cable again, the guy on the ice connected himself to the cable, and he (in orange, to the left of the leftmost ice fishing shelter) was winched back up the the helicopter.

Definitely a “don’t try this at home” moment! I’m glad the coast guard guys know how to do that.

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