Last week, we brought you the story about Mad River Township first responders becoming certified in ice rescue training. To even further exercise their skills in ice rescue techniques, Mad River Township Fire and EMS hosted a joint training session Sunday, February 9 with crews from Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Dressed in several styles of multi-colored dry suits, members of both departments boldly jumped into the lake in front of the Speedway Corporation to demonstrate three types of rescue techniques. The layer of ice on top the lake was approximately six inches thick, and crews cut away three sections to expose the water below. First, the participants demonstrated self-rescue techniques, learning how to pull themselves out of the water and up onto the ice. Then, they practiced throwing ropes and other graspable items out to those in the water and demonstrated the proper way to pull them out. The third course then taught the first responders how to retrieve a victim who is unable to assist with the rescue due to shock or hypothermia.

Mad River Township Firefighter/EMT Kurt Werner said the third rescue technique is likely the most common situation first responders will encounter when dealing with ice rescue, as frigid water conditions can quickly affect dexterity.

Sunday morning’s heavy snow did not hamper the crews’ efforts, and Mad River Township Fire/EMS Chief Tracy Young said the colder-than-average temperatures and excessive snowfall this winter have created a rare opportunity for crews to physically demonstrate what they learn in the classroom during training sessions. “With this kind of training, we can start to lose proficiency quickly if we don’t practice it regularly,” said Chief Young. “We’re actually very fortunate to have this kind of weather so that we can get out here and practice what we learn in the classroom, because this skill set will really start to lack if allowed to idle,” Young said.

“This is central Ohio,” said Kurt Werner. “It’s rare that we get to practice this around here.”

Kathy and Vince Talley, employees of the Speedway corporation, braved the near white-out conditions to attend Sunday’s training session held at their place of employment. With the approval of firefighters, Vince donned a township life jacket and bravely ventured out onto the ice to take some pictures and get a closer look at the training exercises. “This is so exciting,” Kathy Talley said. “I’m so glad we came out today.” Chief Young said he was very thankful that Speedway had allowed both departments to practice on the campus of its headquarters in Enon.

Young said members of the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Fire Department had been trained in ice rescue, but did not get to practice hands-on techniques often, and that the joint training session was extremely beneficial to both departments. Young said the heavy snow created a realistic environment that crews needed to experience.