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Local Emergency Management Will Soon Get Hovercraft

WISH TV 8, Indianapolis, IN
October, 2007
By Eric Halvorson

INDIANAPOLIS - When you hear a siren, you know what to look for; a police car, a fire truck, or an ambulance. 24-Hour News 8 has exclusively learned that Indianapolis is about to take charge of something completely different.

While it is not something you'd expect in Indianapolis, in the next week or so, Marion County expects to take delivery of a hovercraft. It would be used in situations too difficult for traditional rescue equipment, but the hovercraft has raised a few eyebrows.

Marion County hovercraft from Homeland Security grant

"It did catch my attention," Council candidate Tim Maguire said.

Maguire spotted a "hovercraft" reference at a City-County budget hearing last month.

"It does seem like an odd thing. Indianapolis, what do we need a hovercraft for? How have we been getting along so far without it," Maguire said.

At that hearing Indianapolis Fire Chief Jim Greeson said a hovercraft can do things current machines can't.

"If we have a weather related incident in the winter time, whether it's snow or blizzard, where we cannot reach residents by normal means of transportation, a hovercraft can maneuver over the snow," Chief Greeson explained.

But after the meeting, neither Greeson nor anyone else with the city would talk about it. They preferred a big unveiling.

Late Wednesday a spokesperson with the Department of Emergency Management did answer our questions. While there are different sizes the new Marion County craft, which is built in Terre Haute, will hold a specially trained pilot and five other people.

The county expects to be better equipped for dangerous incidents with the new hovercraft.

"It adds a capability that we currently do not have. Not only to the Indianapolis Fire Department but to Central Indiana," said Chief Greeson.

Naturally, people want to know what the hovercraft costs. Emergency Management says it costs $57,000.

No, it doesn't come from property tax money, although you paid on the federal level. A Homeland Security grant covers the cost of the hovercraft.

 
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