By Will E Sanders
PIQUA — An especially cold winter might make most people think twice before submerging themselves in near freezing water. That is, of course, unless you happen to be a member of the Piqua Fire Department.
Members of the fire department put on their Gumby suits, an insulated cold weather suit, and visited a pond located near Buckeye Insurance, 1 Heritage Plaza, Piqua, on Wednesday afternoon to conduct the winter weather rescue training.
While veteran members of the department took part in the training exercises, a new batch of firefighters and paramedics who have not undergone the training played a heavier role on and below the ice, said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Peltier.
“We have hired some new guys and we want to get them in the suits and get them out there so they can get a feel for it,” Peltier said. “So we want to go over that with them. For the older guys, it’s more of a review.”
The ice exercises are designed to mimic a real-life emergency situation and the department has participated in such exercises routinely over the last two decades, Peltier said.
While the department has never really performed an actual ice rescue in years, Peltier said the training is crucial in the event of a real emergency scenario.
In conducting the ice rescue training members of the department cut a hole in the ice and had one member play the part of the victim. Then other members of the department, armed with a pike or a ladder and safety devices, crawled out along the ice to rescue the “victim.”
“There are certain ways to rescue a victim out of the hole or situation without getting themselves into any trouble,” Peltier said.
For anyone who might be even just a little curious about what it feels like being submerged in icy water in the middle of February, Peltier said it’s not as bad as most people might think.
“There is a chill all around your body, but you never go in above your neck,” he said. “The suits keep you warmer because they are insulated, so they do a pretty good job of keeping you fairly warm.”
Peltier said it is important for everyone to realize how big of a danger the ice is and said the best advice to avoid a potential emergency situation is to just stay off of the ice.
“My best advice would be to just stay off of the ice,” he said. “You never know just how thick the ice is underneath. A couple of inches might hold, but you just don’t know. It’s just a risky situation.”
Will E Sanders may be reached at 773-2721 or follow on Twitter @TheDailyCall.