Harwich Fire practices ice rescue techniques

– The Harwich Fire Department recently took advantage of the recent cold weather to practice ice rescue techniques. Fire officials say the recent cold weather has created conditions not always seen in this area-large amounts of thick ice.

Firefighters trained at Wixon’s Beach off Cahoon Road at Long Pond. Using survival suits and a variety of equipment and techniques. firefighters were put through multiple scenarios practicing both single and multiple victim rescues.

“Members were trained in nationally accepted and proven methods for rapid, effective and safe rescue of victims and animals who had fallen through ice. A guiding principle in the training provided is that there is not one sure method of rescue device that will work for all incidents. Using a few proven techniques to maintain safety, being able to adapt and working as a team are the keys to a successful rescue effort” said Lieutenant Scott Tyldesley who ran the training along with EMS Officer Rob Sanders.

While this training is done every year as part of preparation for cold weather, this year the department elected to have the drill down off duty, which allowed the firefighters to get the full training without having to respond to emergency calls.

In all, 27 firefighters were trained, each getting the opportunity to function in the various different roles required for an effective rescue.

The department offers the following tips regarding the ice for the public:

– No ice is safe ice. While clear ice is stronger, extreme care should be taken before venturing out on any ice.
– You should never go out on the ice alone
– If you fall through the ice, don’t panic. Try and get your feet up and float onto the edge to get out
– If you get out, don’t stand up but roll away from the hole to stronger ice
– If you can’t get out, get to the edge and try to rest your arms on the edge
– One of the leading causes of people falling through the ice is trying to rescue animals. If an animal is stuck on the ice, call the fire department.

Media release and photos furnished by Harwich Fire

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