Unusually frigid temperatures in the inland Pacific Northwest last month gave first responders in Northern Idaho the perfect opportunity to familiarize themselves with a new BNSF airboat and other winter rescue equipment. A training session held at Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint, Idaho saw first responders in the region practice airboat operation on water, ice, snow and bare ground. Participants also practiced using other winter rescue equipment, such as ice saws, dry suits, rafts and drones.

The airboat is available for local and regional hazards and rescue operations, as almost all boat launches in Bonner County are unusable during winter months. Participants came from all over the region, including Selkirk Fire, Sam Owen Fire, Bonner County Emergency Management and the Office of Emergency Management for the City of Lewiston and Nez Perce County.