Carmel firefighters prepare for ice water rescues

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CARMEL, Ind. (January 26, 2016) - The temperatures are near the freezing point this week, which means ice-covered lakes and ponds are  unstable. The risk of people falling into icy water is very present.

The Carmel Fire Department (CFD) is preparing for potential ice water rescues by conducting special training for each of its firefighters.  Members of the department spent Monday carrying out rescue exercises in the water near the Monon Community Center. Preparedness is key because the firefighters only have minutes to respond in these situations.

"If you fall through,  your heart rate is going to be going up and your blood pressure going up because of that cold water," said Tim Griffin, public information officer for CFD.

"[Victims] lose dexterity -  which is the first thing to go," said Capt. Gary Brandt.

These first responders shared advice on how to survive falling through the ice.

"If you’re submerged underwater, turn yourself back up, use your feet to break through, get yourself out of the water and  on the ice," Griffin said.  "When you’re on the ice you need to spread out and disperse your weight."

The firefighters wear yellow, insulated suits in the water. The protective gear allows them to jump into action without feeling the full effects of the cold water.  The crews take turns acting as victims and rescuers so that everyone gets a clear idea of the factors they will face in a real-life situation.

CFD firefighters tell FOX59 the number one cause of people falling through ice is chasing after a pet. They've seen cases where a dog gets loose, runs out on the ice and the owner tries to rescue the animal. Then. the ice cracks and they both end up falling into the water. CFD urges people to keep their dogs on a leash if you're walking near body of water in the winter.

Watch the video to see FOX59's Gabby Gonzalez go through the ice water rescue training.



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