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Kalamazoo County Fire Chiefs Association holds ice rescue training

VICKSBURG, Mich — For the second year in a row, firefighters in Kalamazoo County participated in practical ice rescue training.

Cadets from Pavillion, Texas Township, Galesburn, Augusta, Fieser, Cooper, Kalamazoo Township, and Richland participated in the exercises which combine classroom training and testing with field training. Men and women training to be firemen took turns rescuing and being rescued in full gear in order to experience what an actual ice rescue would be like.

“We’re giving them all of the tools to make a rescue.” City of Portage Battalion Chief Rick Nason tells FOX 17. “You never know when [it’s] going to come … when somebody falls through the ice.”

Many ice rescues are needed when someone tries to save an animal that has fallen through the ice. “So we have to be prepared for anything,” says Nason “whether it be a domesticated animal, pets, and people that fall through the ice.”

Training includes teaching the rescuers to rescue themselves. Each cadet is dressed in the same equipment as they would use in the field, consisting of a thermal inner layer and an outer layer that will keep them warm… when dry. Once wet, the temperature and weight of the water becomes a factor in each rescue that firefighters must be able to account for.

“That’s one of the things we train for a lot of the times. We worry about the patient being out there, but for the long instances we have to worry about our people out there getting cold.” Nason explains.

Cadets practiced multiple scenarios including single person rescue, snowmobile accident, domesticated animals, and possible injury accidents, as well as rescuing themselves to prepare them for the “outside the box” thinking needed for each unique rescue.

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