Firefighters training to rescue victims from frozen ice, but urge you to stay off the ice

Firefighters training to rescue victims from frozen ice, but urge you to stay off the ice

Firefighters training to rescue victims from frozen ice, but urge you to stay off the ice

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by Kelsey Starks

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 16, 2010 at 8:31 PM

(WHAS11)  The deep freeze is finally coming to an end, but you may notice many area lakes and ponds are still frozen over.
 

A word of caution:  Never try to get out on the ice.
 

WHAS11’s Kelsey Starks introduces us to some people who went against that word of caution, and it’s all for your safety.
 

The temperatures may be above freezing, but many parts of Kentuckiana are still thawing out.
 

We found a frozen pond that was getting a little help.  It’s training day for the Jefferson County Swift Water Rescue Team; a day to jump in and then learn how to get you and someone else out.
 

Travis Bell, Jefferson County Water Rescue said, “There’s no grip.  Imagine, you’ve got 2 things: water and ice.  It’s the most slippery combination you can have.  There’s nothing to grab onto. It’s a frozen solid sheet of ice.”
 

There are 72 members of this team in fire departments all across the Metro area.  Within 5-10 minutes, you or I would be unconscious in water like this.
 

We found it a good thing they say they can get on their gear and get someone out in just about 60 seconds.
 

Capt. Joe Elder, PRP Fire Department said, “It takes a lot of practice, and to be honest, a lot of luck as far as where you are on the ice, and if you can get that right leverage point to pull yourself up and roll…”
 

“So for someone untrained who might have fallen in, it would be nearly impossible?” we asked.
 

“Yes, especially if they don’t have the thermal suits, and have on normal clothes... hypothermia would kick in; it would be impossible.”
 

And what about that protective equipment?  “There’s about 3-4 linings in it.  Actually, if you stay in it too long, it gets kind of warm.”
 

It’s layers of complete thermal protection, but has floating mechanisms too; the entire budget for the team, coming from Metro government, at a cost of about $60,000 a year.
 

And it’s another way for firefighters to rescue in more ways than one.
 

Capt. Joe Elder said, “We’re getting more in-depth training in different fields so we can adapt.  It’s not just about making fire runs anymore.”
 

The water rescue team had one rescue response in Indiana two weeks ago that turned out to be a false alarm.  Other than that, no water rescues have happened so far this year.  And they say, they hope to keep it that way.
 

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