Photo Gallery: First responders practice water rescues on Lake Murray

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It was anything but an average Thursday morning for the men and women of many agencies who make up the Lexington County Joint Swift-Water and Flood Rescue and Recovery Team (JRRT).

The JRRT conducted a training session at Flotilla Island on Lake Murray, centering around a helicopter dropping a line to pull people out of the water, with several boats also on site to assist.

The exercise could be valuable in many situations, from rescuing people after a boat accident to bringing help to an injured person on one of the lake’s many islands. The helicopter can drop Emergency Medical Services personnel into places inaccessible by road to deliver help.

Crews also can use short-haul rescue equipment to strap injured people into a device that is then lifted to a helicopter. The same procedure could be used even away from the water, for example, in rescuing an injured hunter from deep in the woods. Today was the team’s first practice with a newly acquired helicopter, after the previous one was decommissioned.

The helicopter has a device attached to the cockpit which functions as a razor blade, cutting lines if necessary for the copter to get into tight places in an emergency.

The chopper pilot is unable to see those being rescued, so a tactical flight officer leans out of the aircraft and exchanges hand signals with JRTT members below, then relays directions to the pilot.

The JRTT includes specially trained men and women from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Lexington County Fire Services, Columbia Police Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Lexington County EMS, Chapin Police Department, and Lexington Police Department.