The South Carolina Helicopter Aquatics Rescue Team (SC HART), a division of the South Carolina Emergency Response Task Force, has returned home after assisting Texans during Hurricane Harvey disaster response, and now prepares to assist their own citizens as Irma threatens the Carolinas. Lieutenant Scott Jackson with the Greenville City Fire Department was among those deployed to Texas as part of the HART team.
The SC HART team deployed to Texas last Tuesday at the request of the Texas governor to assist in search and rescue operations after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The SC HART team, combined with both the North Carolina and Texas HART teams, and along with the US Coast Guard, flew 47 missions, with four of those missions resulting in rescues. Both SC and NC HART were released early due to Hurricane Irma.
The most notable SC HART mission was the rescue of a family of three, including an eight-week-old baby who was ill and required medical attention. The family’s home had been cut off by flooding. Prior to the family’s rescue, SC HART had just completed the rescue of an elderly woman who was also trapped by flood waters.
SC HART was started in 2008 and is a collaboration between the South Carolina Army National Guard and the South Carolina Urban Search & Rescue Team (US&R). SC US&R is comprised of emergency responders throughout the state who volunteer to be a part of the team and receive specialized rescue training. A HART team is comprised of a SC Army National Guard helicopter crewed by specially trained pilots and aircrew, and is complemented by three firefighters; with one serving as a team leader and two rescue/swimmer specialists.
Hurricane Harvey is the first time SC HART has deployed out of state. Prior to Harvey, SC HART assisted in Columbia in what has become known as the “1000 Year Flood” in 2015, and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and has flown many missions assisting South Carolinians from the mountains of the Upstate to the coastal areas.
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Battalion Chief Bryan Rhodes
Greenville City Fire Department