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Volunteer firefighters partake in ice rescue training

The training was put on by Raymond Fire & Rescue and a company out of Colorado
Published: Jan. 17, 2021 at 8:05 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Volunteers from several fire departments took part in an ice rescue training event on Sunday in northwestern Lancaster County.

The Raymond Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department hosted a Surface Ice Rescue Technician Level 1 Certification Class for the firefighters out at Branched Oak Lake.

Jamie Lierman with Raymond says volunteers try to do this sort of training at least once a year.

“The reason we have a class this year is because, through attrition, we’ve lost a few members who have had it,” Lierman told 10/11 NOW. “We were running low with people who are actually certified, so this is more refilling our ranks with certified members.”

Bo Tibbetts, lead trainer with Public Safety Dive Supply and Technical Rescue International, says one of the biggest challenges to real ice rescues is the state of the victim in the water.

“What do we do with that aggressive person -- what do we do with that passive person; everything else in between, whether they’re self-rescue capable, whether they are alert or whether they’re passive is how we’re going to respond to them,” Tibbetts said.

In terms of safety measures, Tibbetts says the biggest thing a person can do is the obvious: stay off the ice.

“That’s probably the safest bet that you can have, because even though there might be sections that are very thick, there’s other sections that may not be.”

Tibbetts says if you do go on the ice, make sure you have proper gear on, such as a life jacket.

“They need to let someone know where they’re going, when they’ll be back -- the basics. Ultimately, be safe, but really just stay on shore,” Tibbetts said.

Volunteers say the ice they’re training on is anywhere between four to six inches thick, but ideal ice rescue scenarios would have ice thickness measuring less than that.

Some of the volunteers who took part included personnel from Raymond, Hickman, Cortland, David City and Hastings.

Volunteers from Cortland say they’re already looking at gathering funds to purchase some of the equipment that was used during Sunday’s training.

The class was presented by PSDS from Grand Junction, Colorado. Raymond Fire Chief Shane Cuttlers says the class is 20 hours, featuring classroom and hands-on skills.

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