LFR trains for dangerous ice water rescues

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — It’s something no one wants to experience… falling into a hole in a frozen lake, but that’s just what Lincoln Fire and Rescue did at Holmes Lake for their ice water rescue training.

LFR battalion chief Mark Majors said, “”We’re going to have some fun out here. There will probably be some smiles on faces, but at the end of the day we are dealing with ice and it can be unpredictable and you can fall through anywhere.”

With temperatures in the 40s it was a perfect day for people to be ice fishing on the lake, something Majors made sure to mention saying, “There are numerous ice fishermen out on the ice, and at any point and time they can fall in.”

To train for rescues, LFR members put on full body wet suits specifically made for ice rescues.  The suits keep the rescuers dry and warm while in the frigid water.

They then use a chainsaw to cut the ice making a triangular hole.  The crew uses straps to keep that ice block under the other ice so when they are done, they can pull the block back and allow it to freeze back in place.  This is to make sure they aren’t making hazards for people later.

Once the hole is made, crew members jump in to the water and have to try to get themselves out using nothing but their arms.  After they demonstrate they can do that, they go back in and use handheld ice picks to help them out of the water.

Then the real fun begins.  Crewmembers take turns being a “victim” in the ice hole while another LFR member takes a floatation board out to attempt a rescue.  The rest of the rescuers grab the line attached to the board, and when the crewman with the board is ready after helping the victim, the rest of the crew begin to pull both the victim and the rescuer out of the water.

So how can people on the ice make sure they aren’t the ones who need to be rescued?  Majors gave some tips on what to look out for.

“”Anytime that you see anomalies or abnormalities in the ice itself that can be clues that the ice is either stable or it isn’t stable. Anytime you have cloudy ice or bubbly looking snow on the ice and things like that, that means it’s not really as thick and as dense as it should be and it can always be a risk for falling through.”

But if you were to fall in the water it’s very important to follow these tips Majors has.

“One of the things we always coach people to do is get your hands out in front of you; and the cold water is going to really take your energy away really, really quickly. So you will only have a few brief moments to try to self extricate yourself and if you would happen to get yourself up on that ice, get flat, spread out your weight to and get as much wide as you possibly can and then slowly roll away from the hole that you fell in. “

If you can’t do those things, it’s important to stay calm and get your arms up onto the ice shelf.  After holding your arms up on the ice for a while your clothes will freeze helping to keep you upright.

It’s also important if you’re going out alone to tell someone your plans.  That way if you don’t check in, someone knows to look for you.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, News, Top Stories