Ready For A Rescue

August 9, 2018
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Ready For A Rescue

WILKES-BARRE — Lt. John Amico took scuba diving in college and found his calling.

Years later, he became captain of the Germania Hose Company’s Dive and Water Rescue Team in Duryea. He helped grow the group to the point where they are now demonstrating water rescue simulations to other municipal teams within the county.

On Tuesday night at Nesbitt Park, the Germania scuba team and Hanover Area Water Rescue Team simulated rescue situations. Pennsylvania’s Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team presented its equipment and explained when and why it would be called in to a situation.

The groups gave the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency a water rescue capabilities presentation.

Len Basara, the former captain of the Germania Dive and Water Rescue Team, is now a rescue technician with HART. According to Basara, the team works in a joint effort with the military.

“The military has the assets such as the aircraft and the ability to fly them,” Basara said. “We have the boots on the ground and the expertise in water rescue. So, the two agencies married up to form HART, to specialize primarily in hoist operations.”

HART is called in when local level resources have been exhausted. Basara has been with the team since its inception in 2014 and is proud Pennsylvania is now one of the five states in the nation to have these services.

Water rescues in general are low frequency, high risk and the most important position both Amico and Basara agreed upon is safety. It is always the number one priority, not just for civilians but for themselves as well.

“Always be safe around water,” Amico said. “Always wear a personal flotation device or a life jacket, make sure it is worn properly and just always be cognizant when around a body of water. Also, make sure people know where you are and when you’re expected to be home. Of course, the water can be fun but, it can also be very dangerous.”

EMA Deputy Director David Elmore arranged for the teams to come out and present their water rescue tactics as a training exercise for everyone involved with the EMA.

According to Elmore, Wilkes-Barre is a fine example of a team being expertly trained and is a powerful asset to have. But, with this training exercise, the EMA wanted to present resources from outside the city, yet still within the county borders.

“We are trying to provide as much training as we can,” Elmore said. “This exercise was a great opportunity for emergency management coordinators and their staff to gain the knowledge needed to prepare for emergency situations within their municipalities.”

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