Albert B Beardsley, Fire Chief
47 Central Street
Georgetown, MA 01833
For Immediate Release
Friday, Jan. 15, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Georgetown Fire Department Conducts Ice Rescue Training
GEORGETOWN — Chief Albert B Beardsley reports that the Georgetown Fire Department and its members spent the day on Sunday, Jan. 11 in below-freezing temperatures training on how to handle emergency situations on thin ice and in extremely cold weather.
Georgetown has two large ponds in town, as well as many smaller areas of water, that draw many people this time of year for skating and ice fishing. While ice activities can be very enjoyable, there is a lot of risk, especially early in the season.
Under the direction of Lieutenants Bret Moyer and Craig Lampert, firefighters reviewed safety measures to be taken during an ice-related incident and had a chance to don special “exposure” suits that permit a responder to enter frigid waters for a rescue.
In addition to the suits, firefighters reviewed and trained using a variety of equipment including a special “sled” that has two flotation pontoons that a firefighter stands on to move about safely on thin ice. The sled can also do double-duty in helping to move a victim off ice or water for safe transportation to the shore.
“Ice and water rescues involve many responders and a lot of equipment. So whether it’s the special cold water suits, the sled, or manning the hauling lines, we need a lot of help in these emergencies,” Chief Beardsley said.
The fire department likes to do this training during the early days of ice because the ice is extremely brittle and these conditions help in creating a more realistic scenario for firefighters. The department was prepared to start training in early-December, but the warm temps removed all the ice. The early deep-freeze froze ice on Sunday to approximately 8” thick, which is perfect for the training.
While the fire department was out training, they observed as many as a dozen skaters and people fishing on the ice creating a sense of urgency in being well-trained.
To add to the realism Georgetown firefighters cut a hole in the ice and several brave firefighters donned the special suits and jumped in the icy-water and had other firefighters practice moving them out of the water and onto the shore.
Any training performed by firefighters has an element of risk, but this is why Georgetown firefighters practice using all the tools necessary for a safe operation, and Sunday was no different.
“We train with reallism so when the time does come and we have an emergency, we know and understand what to expect,” Lieutenant Moyer said.
Chief Beardsley also wants to remind residents that no ice should ever be assumed safe. Warm spots rising to the surface from springs or swift currents below the water can create thin ice. A warm day can create a melting that isn’t easily recognized until it’s too late. The Georgetown Fire Department wants all of its residents to be safe and enjoy the winter season!