The Springfield Fire Department practiced their ice rescue operations at Van Horn Park on Wednesday morning. Capt. Curt Marcellin of the Springfield Fire Department said it is critical to get out every year and practice using their ice rescue equipment.
"Rescuing on the ice is a very difficult and dangerous operation," said Marcellin. "Several years ago we had an incident here in the city where we had to conduct an ice rescue. It was a very difficult and long operation. After that we had these sleds donated to the city and we've been training on it annually."
To assist with the ice rescue rehearsals, Elizabeth Roman, a reporter from our media partners MassLive and The Republican, played the role of victim for their first training run. She got suited up, received her instructions, and crawled into the icy waters. Marcellin then carefully headed out on the sled.
"Myself and the sled are both tethered to the shore," said Marcellin. "On the shore you have guys that are in charge of making sure at all times they have a connection to you."
Once arriving, they reassure the victim to remain calm, attach the victim to the sled, and are both pulled safely back to shore. Roman spoke about her experience waiting to be rescued.
"You still feel that your legs kind of sink down and into the waters," said Roman. "I can imagine if you're not wearing [an ice rescue suit], if you're just wearing regular clothing, how quickly you could slip in."
Other than the safety harness she was connected to at shore, Roman said there really is nothing else to firmly grab onto.
Springfield fire crews said today's ice was about 2 inches thick. While safe enough for rescue training, it needs to be about 4 inches thick for winter activities to be done more safely.
"The primary thing about ice safety - teenagers and kids want to go on an adventure across the ice," said Marcellin. "Keep an eye on the ice and at all times you know where your children are."
Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.