Waterloo Firefighters Test New Rescue/Patrol Boat

Thursday wasn't the best day to be out on the water, but firefighters have to be prepared for rescues in any kind of weather.

So 18 volunteers from Waterloo, Nebraska were learning how to operate the department’s new airboat, a $120,000 rescue craft that had its maiden voyage on the Elkhorn River. That's where hundreds of recreational tubers will be floating this summer. There's also the potential for flood emergencies.

“Two years ago, the Elkhorn River flooded western Douglas County north and south of Waterloo,” said Waterloo Fire Chief Travis Harlow. “In the King Lake area, we performed over 42 water rescues.”

While the airboat will patrol the Elkhorn River during peak times for tubing and canoeing, it won't be used to bust drinkers. It’s designed to hold five people for water rescues and has a top speed of about 50 mph.

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