Jefferson Township Fire Company #2 took advantage of the cold temperatures to practice rescue ice training on Lake Shawnee on February 16.
The Jefferson Chronicle spoke to JTFD #2 firefighter Travis Luecht, who coordinated the drills along with two other instructors from the company. Luecht said the exercises are conducted annually to certify trainees and keep others’ skills up to date. Members learn techniques to distribute their weight on the ice and properly remove themselves from icy waters. The firefighters train with specialized equipment, including ice rescue sleds.
Although the water temperature was a chilly 40 degrees during this year’s drill, the crew’s gear keeps them warm as long as there is no skin-to-skin contact. However, Luecht says the drills are “demanding on the body.” Rest is imperative after the five-hour training.
No rescues have been required yet this year, although a resident called in January to report that an ice fishing tent had blown away. The caller stated that a fisherman had been seen in the tent earlier in the day. It was unclear whether he had left or there had been an accident. JTFD #2 responded with divers and searched the frigid water; there was no evidence of a victim.
“We hope we never have to use these skills,” said Luecht, “but we are ready if we do.”
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