Between the Sky and the Water: Unit 669 Practices Water Rescue Between the Sky and the Water: Unit 669 Practices Water Rescue Between the Sky and the Water: Unit 669 Practices Water Rescue Between the Sky and the Water: Unit 669 Practices Water Rescue Between the Sky and the Water: Unit 669 Practices Water Rescue The Airborne Recue and Evacuation Unit 669 is on constant alert and must be ready for deployment and rescue, anytime and anyplace: Steep slopes, rocky mountains, and the sea. This week, soldiers from the unit practiced complex rescues at sea

Michal Khayut

Combat soldiers of the Airborne Recue and Evacuation Unit 669 descend one after another from Owl Helicopters, while wearing special suits. They enter the water and swim quickly to the point where, just a few minutes ago, aerial teams abandoned their airplane. Within minutes, the rescue teams start to board the helicopter again, together with the aerial teams of survivors.

This scenario is just part of the exercise Unit 669 passed last week. “The goal of the training is to maintain our competence in sea rescue”, said First Lieutenant D’, commander of a combat team in the unit. “For example, there could be a pilot who ejected into the water, and may even be injured as a result of the ejection, and we would have to rescue him quickly”.

It is not always people from aerial teams who need to be rescued: Sometimes, the unit is called upon to rescue civilians or for other missions. In the winter of 2009, a foreign ship sank in the Mediterranean Sea, which was especially stormy, and the unit came to the rescue. To handle just such a situation, an exercise was held. During the exercise, in conjunction with the “Masar” squadrons, the soldiers learn the challenges hidden in the sea and the many ways in which this type of rescue differs from dry-land rescue. “There will always be the risk of big waves”, explains First Lieutenant D’. “When the sea is especially stormy, the wounded victims may drift in a different direction from the soldiers, and vice versa. At night, there is an additional obstacle in identifying the wounded victims. We have to collect them in one place and prepare them for evacuation by the helicopter”.

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