Firefighters conduct ice rescue training; prepare for the extreme cold

The ice needs to be at least 5 inches thick for it to be safe

SUNDERLAND, Mass. (WWLP) – Wednesday night will be a dangerously cold night in western Massachusetts. The City of Springfield has already activated its Cold Weather Response Plan.

Hypothermia and frostbite can set in quickly when it’s this cold outside. The situation becomes even more dangerous if you ever fall through a frozen body of water.

Tuesday night, Sunderland firefighters practiced for a call they hope they don’t get this winter. They practiced rescuing a victim who had fallen through the ice. The firefighters broke through the ice and one person playing the role of a victim went in the water.

Then, using an ice rescue sled, multiple teams of two firefighters went through the drill several times, hoisting the victim up to the sled, out of the freezing cold water.

Fire Chief Robert Ahearn told 22News his department practices the drill once a year. But he still advises people to stay away from frozen ponds or lakes. He said, “With the crazy weather we’ve been having this year, with the warm weather just a couple weeks ago, there was actually open water. It’s just starting to freeze now. So it’s still very unsafe.”

The ice needs to be at least five inches thick for it to be safe for winter activities like ice skating or ice fishing. If you ever go on frozen ponds or lakes, go with someone. That way one person can call for help right away in emergency situations.

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