Patrick Air Force Base reserves fly to Texas to begin hurricane relief training

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U.S. Air Force rescue helicopters left Patrick Air Force Base on Monday, headed for Fort Worth Texas, where they will begin training exercises in case they are asked to help efforts to rescue people stranded by Hurricane Harvey floodwaters

“If we are needed, we’ll be ready,” said Colonel Kurt Matthews, Commander of the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force base. “We worked Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Floyd, and Rita, so we’re prepared.”

The 920th rescue wing is usually deployed overseas, where they are tasked with rescuing military men and women, including behind enemy lines. Colonel Matthews says he's sending 91 Air Force personnel and 5 aircraft to Texas for hurricane relief training-- just in case they are ordered to help out.

“If there’s folks trapped in their homes that might not be able to wait two, three, four days, then its our responsibility to be ready to get there as soon as possible," said Col. Matthews.

Air Force Pave Hawk helicopters are unique because they can be refueled in mid-air by a C-130 -- basically a flying gas station-- that minimizes down time.  And para-rescue reserves are also combat paramedics who have night goggle technology so they can perform rescues 24-7.

“We provide the greatest rescue capability in the world” said Col. Matthews.

The 920th Rescue Wing is expected to arrive in Texas on Monday night.