Ice rescue training prepares firefighters for emergencies

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JEFFERSON CITY -Firefighters practiced ice rescue training this week at McKay Lake. 

The training is with all 75 members over three days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

They have two trainings a day, a morning group and an afternoon group.

Division Chief of Training Jerry Blomberg said they go through training for the worst case scenario, someone falling through the ice. 

"They start off with victim profiling and how a victim is going to act in very cold water, and the signs and symptoms of hypothermia. The dangers of the ice for the victim, and how we will handle the ice and how we will get out there and the best way to get to that victim very quickly," said Blomberg.

Blomberg said this is how the activity will go:

"Their going to learn how to get out on ice that may not support their weight, because obviously if someone is in the water they've fallen through it, so they're going learn how to distribute their weight, how to get to the victim quickly, how to manage more than one victim, and self rescue techniques. How to get out of an ice hole they may have created," Blomberg said. 

He said just because this doesn't happen often, doesn't mean the department shouldn't be prepare.

"We haven't had an incident in a while that we're aware of, we know that the police department has been called out here to get people off the ice last week," said Blomberg, "Now is when the danger happens, the weather is changing, with this thaw and refreeze and last weeks rain, the ice is going to change and its not going to be as stable and as solid as it was.

He said the training is important because people have to be rescued immediately.

"This is one of those times where we really know the speed really is of the essence, we know that victim is going to be failing quickly, and we're pushing them to get on that ice and that's going to be the most effective technique," Blomberg said, "When they get in that water they've got 5 minutes maybe 10 minutes may be at the most.

The training happens annually, but sometimes weathers permits it.

"We have ice on the water, which we haven't had for a couple of years, last year when had to do, when we did our annual ice training we did it on our bay floor in the station trying to mimick ice as best as we could," said Blomberg.

Jefferson city firefighter Pete Stoops said the importance of the training is because this incident could happen. 

"There is a lot of lakes and water ways here in Jeff City and with the cold weather we have it wouldn't be uncommon for us to have to save someone from falling through the ice," Stoops said. 

The best way to stay safe is to keep off of the lake.

Firefighters recently required the yellow suits, their a mustang survival suit designed for cold water. 

"The firefighters in the water are actually very comfortable, to a point now with the weather warmer today, they actually may be just a little warm," Blomberg said. 

"I hadn't been in the water yet with one of these suits and it's surprising how buoyant it is, the only thing that was cold is my face," Stoops said. 

Ice skating and being on the ice is prohibited at all the Jefferson City public lake locations, so if this were to happen it would be someone who wasn't supposed to be on the ice or accidental.