Ice rescue training on Chase Lake

by Louise H. McGregor, staff writer, with information supplied by Deer River Fire Department members Chad Evans and Phill Hermel

The Deer River Fire Department trains every year on ice and cold water rescue and the most recent training took place on Nov. 18 at the Chase Lake access.

“The weather was hovering around 5° degrees,” said Hermel, “but the conditions were perfect for it. With the recent freezing of many local lakes, and the eagerness of fishermen to get out on the early ice it is a very valuable training exercise for our crew.”

The fire department has six Stearns Ice Rescue Suits that protect the firemen from the frigid cold water and an inflatable Rapid Deployment Craft rescue boat that is used to get the victim out of the water safely.

“With the early thin ice and knowing that people will be venturing out onto the lakes,” said Evans, “it is important that we are prepared to implement our skills and tools when needed.”

During the training a fireman will play the “victim” while two of the firemen train on getting out to them in a timely fashion.

“There was ice out about 50 yards on the lake,” said Hermel, “so we had a chance to play it like a real-life scenario. The department has some great equipment for this type of rescue. The training is very realistic and we follow our S.O.G.’s (Standards of Operating Guidelines) to refresh ourselves each year. In the past two years we have had a chance to put our skills to the test saving a dog and a lady trapped in her car in a river. These situations can be very scary yet our training allows us to have to confidence and knowledge to save lives.”

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