Albert Lea Firefighters Train For Ice Rescue

Posted at: 12/13/2012 9:45 PM
Updated at: 12/14/2012 7:45 AM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A car went through the ice in Minneapolis this afternoon, showing just how unsafe conditions still are, despite the recent swing of winter weather in state.

Though no one was in that car, it's a good reminder of how dangerous the ice can be this early in the season. Which is why many fire departments have started their ice rescue training.

Many are eager to get out there on the ice for ice fishing and skating, but it's this time of year where you've got to be careful. That's why the Albert Lea Fire Department was out on the ice today, training how to save someone from the freezing water.

"It's that time of year where it’s not safe," said Albert Lea Firefighter Kurt Wallace. Still, some try to venture out onto the ice. "An example this morning, watching people walk across the lake," said Captain Mark Light with the Albert Lea Fire Department.

Most of the lakes in Albert Lea are only an inch or two thick right now. A pretty thin layer of ice to be walking on. Which is why the Albert Lea Fire Department is training for the worst.

They’re getting ready to jump in, in case someone falls through the ice. "Hopefully we never have to try these techniques for real, but if we need do, I feel that we are in a pretty good position to use them," said Captain Light.

Each winter, they're out there practicing those rescue techniques. Something those with department say, they can’t do enough. "There are a lot of people involved, there's a lot of equipment involved, a lot of time involved, so the more you can rehearse this, the better you are at it," said Captain Light.

A chance to strengthen their skills and test out some new ones. "We tried some new techniques using mechanical advantage to help us out," said Wallace.

Though that technique proved difficult for me when I tried it, it was very efficient for these firefighters. However, getting someone out of the water, isn't always their biggest concern. "That's only half the battle, then we have got to worry about hypothermia and other precautions," said Wallace.

That's why they train by having one person pulling them out, the other alongside the person in the water to make sure they're okay. A task that isn't as bone chilling as it looks. "It's actually really warm," said Wallace."

“We can stay in the water for hours if we need to," said Captain Light. Though with all of this training, hopefully they'll never have to.

The Albert Lea Fire Department actually does this training several times throughout the season. They say it's not only helpful for rescues in the winter, but all year round.