WILSON CO., Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee National Guard flies high above Middle Tennessee practicing responding to large-scale emergencies.
The drills are part of Vigilant Guard 2021, the statewide training exercise, when National Guardsmen, alongside federal, state, and local first responders work together.
News 2’s Neil Orne joins the HART team to experience the drill firsthand.
“This is us over here.” The call comes in, and the Tennessee National Guard’s Helicopter-borne Aquatic Rescue Team (HART) know minutes count to get in the air.
“If we are at the facility, and we know bad weather is coming in, we have to be on a one-hour standby. Once we get the call, we have at least an hour to get off the ground. A lot of times, we can be faster than that,” says Eric Rumsey, First Sergeant Course with the TN-HART team.
Local responders, like Nashville Fire’s Engine 12, play a key role with this elite team. The Blackhawk spools up, and they’re off.
In the air, radios are nonstop receiving details of the scene of seven flood victims below.
It takes all eyes of the crew to locate their mission. This crew is one of the top five rescue teams in the country.
What happens next is the ultimate display of teamwork, trust, skill and frankly guts.
EMT’s are off the Blackhawk; The guard lift operator in the back is verbally flying the aircraft, barking control calls to the pilots; the pilots are virtually blind to what’s happening below. Yet, they maneuver the 13,000lb. beast with a precision down to the foot.
The training no with Wilson County Emergency Management will pay off when this is not a drill.
“Locally, we pretty much work together on a daily basis as far as coordinating fire and rescue units,” says Lee Bowling, WEMA Shift Commander. “The ability to incorporate the military and some of the things they have just expands on the ability to do things.”
Fittingly they are called the Tennessee’s National Guard HART team, because they represent the soul of the Guard’s mission to save Tennessee lives under any circumstance.