Columbia Fire Department hits the ice to practice saving lives

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COLUMBIA - Normally, the lake behind Bass Pro Shop in north Columbia is used for fishing.

But on Thursday, there was quite a different scene.

The Columbia Fire Department used the lake to practice ice rescue training, bringing out all the gear needed to save people who have fallen through the ice.

The department practiced various methods for ice rescue including using ropes to pull victims in, using ladders to crawl out to victims, using boogie boards to slide out to victims and using a small boat to break up the ice and reach victims.

Lieutenant Ryan Adams said the thin ice on the lake this past week made for a realistic scenario.

"Out here it's more real-life conditions," Adams said. "People can actually fall through ice like this. This is much more realistic than just having solid sheets or having hard ice packed on the lake itself."

Training Division Captain Lisa Todd said owners following pets onto the ice is one of the biggest reasons crews have to perform ice rescues.

"If your dog or animal goes out onto the ice, do not go out to get them," Todd said. "If they've fallen through, you'll fall through too."

Todd also said the ice needs to be extremely thick to venture out onto a frozen area safely.

"Ice recommendation is that if the ice is less than two inches, definitely stay off of it," Todd said. "You want at least four inches of thick ice before foot travel is even considered on ice."