Crews prepare for Chevy Hydrofest on Detroit River

Posted at 7:52 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-24 11:40:16-04

The Chevy Detroit HydroFest is back! The historic races have been happening on the Detroit River for more than 100 years.

Engines will roar and water fly, as piston powered boats reach NASCAR speeds on the Detroit River this weekend and emergency crews ran drills on the water Friday to be ready for anything that could happen.

“We have 5 different rescue crews: 3 inside the course and 2 downstream from the course,” says Paul Garesimo, the Race Course Chairman.

Reaching speeds up to 160 mPh the smallest misstep could lead to a big problem. Emergency crews are ready.

Each crew includes 2 medics and 2 divers, in case of an accident, the divers approach the victim together.

“One will go to the head and one will go to the feet and they will swim the victim over to the side of the boat.”

Keeping the victim stable is key, but not easy in the Detroit River.

“Each one of these divers needs to understand what it’s like to be under water in a pretty fast current,” says Garesimo.

The victim is secured to a stretcher with straps while still in the water. Then as a team, the medics from above and divers from below, lift the stretcher into the boat supporting the neck and spine.

“Once the victims are on board then our medics take over and the boat captain gets to the med dock.”

The drills are run all day long on the water while on the shore engines, capsules and emergency exit hatches are carefully examined to ensure the best possible outcomes for this year’s race.

Nearly 50 piston powered hydro planes hit the water Saturday and Sunday.