Photos: Firefighter Ice and Water Rescue Training

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Here are some photos of ice rescue training held recently at the Albion fire station. The AFD has a variety of equipment for water rescue, including a boat and inflatable rescue boats, flotation devices, and ice rescue suits that help insulate the rescuer.

Ice and water rescue training includes classroom sessions, practice in donning and using the equipment, and finally live training outside on the ice and in the water.

Please use extreme caution if going on the ice, especially in areas of springs and flowing water, in warm weather, and other times when the ice might be thin.




In a lake area, you want to have boats. We have the big boat--it's not really all that big. On top of it for easy transport is the inflatable boat, for difficult to access areas like shallow water and swamps. We also have a "banana" boat, for ice rescues--it can go in the water or be slid across the ice, and has an opening front and back for pulling victims in.



Ice rescue suits keep the rescuer (relatively) warm and (mostly) dry while they go out onto the ice, tethered by rope to a shore crew. As with most firefighter duties, for every one who goes into harm's way there are usually a half dozen or more working backup jobs.



At least four suits are necessary for an ice rescue: Two for the rescue crew, and two for the backup crew. Off behind them you can see a wheel of our antique hose reel, which the AFD put into service around 1900. (Yes, there's a photo of it in Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights.)




Luckily, the ice rescue suits are easy to put on and very comfortable. Hah! I'm totally lying. Assisting in getting them on is as much of a skill as actually wearing them.



More of our ice and water rescue equipment. You could climb a mountain and dive on the Titanic in this stuff. 



And more equipment, of course, requires more practice.



Practice, even with the basics. 





Dino Manalis Added Feb 6, 2018 - 8:20am
Thank you very much for keeping our communities safe!
wsucram15 Added Feb 6, 2018 - 12:34pm
Mark..keep up the training...thats really interesting. Are you around a lot of water?  I wonder if our firefighters and EMTs are trained that way.  Interesting.
Leroy Added Feb 6, 2018 - 1:03pm
Looks like a lot of big boy toys.
Dave Volek Added Feb 6, 2018 - 3:22pm
I remember reading a sociology textbook. If a society has avenues for people to participate in society in a meaningful way, it is a more contented society. Investing in things like volunteer fire departments has more benefits than just saving lives.

Mark, you get a lot of satisfaction in this volunteer position. It's great that you are doing it.
Mark Hunter Added Feb 6, 2018 - 4:04pm
Thanks for thinking about us, Dino!
Mark Hunter Added Feb 6, 2018 - 4:14pm
Not all firefighters and EMTs get extensive water rescue training--it depends on the hazards in their response areas. For instance, we don't get high rise fire training, as the nearest high rise building is forty miles away.
Noble County has numerous lakes, most of them relatively small by most standards, but plenty big enough for various water related activities--ice fishing is huge around here, for reasons I don't begin to understand. We have a state park in our response area that's actually called Chain O' Lakes State Park, so that tells you something!
Mark Hunter Added Feb 6, 2018 - 4:15pm
It  does, Leroy, but since they're toys that save lives, we don't quibble.
Mark Hunter Added Feb 6, 2018 - 4:16pm
That makes a lot of sense to me, Dave, and thanks. Volunteerism is big around here in many ways--we're just one of the flashier ones.
John Minehan Added Feb 8, 2018 - 11:03am
In NYC the other day, a young man (Mark Perez, age 13) drown rescuing a friend who had fallen through ice on a pond.  This is a big hazard in the NE and MW that probably no one thinks about enough.  Thanks for posting this, Mark. 
Mark Hunter Added Feb 8, 2018 - 5:45pm
Yeah, I heard about that--horrible thing. It's so hard to judge when the ice is safe.