WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News, Weather, & Sports

Special rescue services train on ice water

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The sub-zero temps and gusty winds didn't stand in the way of the Township Fire Department Saturday.
The members of the Special Rescue Services put on their water suits and jumped into the bitter cold Half Moon Lake, all to make sure they're prepared for any icy situation thrown their way.

Every winter Wisconsin sees some go through the ice in a car, snowmobile or on foot; incidents that the Special Rescue Services train for to always be prepared.

“Confidence is a big component of our job as firefighters and rescuers,” said Special Rescue Captain Chris Turner.

To make sure the team is always ready and safe the Township Fire Department has hands-on ice rescue training every year.

“In this kind of weather we're rescuing someone who is in hypothermic state, so if we get cold and put ourselves in the hypothermic state, than, we put ourselves at risk also, said Rescue Diver Mike Langford.

Langford says all ice water rescues are done in mustang suites, specifically designed for the freezing waters.

“It has quite a bit of buoyancy so it keeps us right at the surface, it's very well isolated,” explained Langford.

The team trains using fortune rescue boats, allowing first responders to get onto much thinner ice, and closer to the victim.
But Turner says divers also practice Go Rescue; going onto the ice with nothing but their suite on.

“That go rescue puts us at the most amount of risk, but based on the potential benefit of saving someone's life that's the risk we're going to take,” said Turner.

Turner says in this cold water just minutes could be the difference between life and death.
The ice rescue training allows the team to be much faster, when it matters most.

“If you're not trained and equipped to go out here (the ice), you could easily become a victim and then it just becomes that much more dangerous,” said Turner.

He says the best way to ensure you don't find yourself under broken ice, is to stay away from dangerous areas where ice is thin and unsafe.

Fire crews say if you do fall through the ice, stay calm, move around as little as possible, and keep your head above water.
Special Rescue Services say they're always looking for individuals to join their team. if you're interested, visit the link on the side of this story.


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