The Springfield Fire Department did their annual ice rescue training today and they invited Western Mass News to train along with them.
We got an exclusive look as Western Mass News reporter Amanda Keane went in the water with the department to see what it really takes to make a complicated rescue.
Every winter, the Springfield Fire Department trains their firefighters to be able to do ice rescues.
"Well-trained firefighters are safe firefighters," said Springfield Fire Commissioner B.J. Calvi.
The first step, firefighters told Western Mass News, is to get into the proper rescue gear, then get into the freezing cold water.
Firefighters first practiced getting Amanda out of the water with a sled that they can use to spread the weight out on the ice, so they don't fall in themselves.
"This training is very important. If you're not properly equipped or trained, you can fall into the ice yourself, become entrapped, and be an extra victim," Calvi explained.
Now it was Amanda's turn. With the firefighters guidance, I attempt to make a rescue.
In some instances, the sled can't be used, so a firefighter has to get into the water in order to get the victim out and then I gave it a try - something that was not easy to do.
"It takes a lot of physical exertion to actually get in there and pull somebody out of the ice," Calvi added.
This type of training is vital for ensuring that on any given shift, all firefighters could make a rescue in these types of conditions and it's not always as easy as the ice we trained on today.
"Where you were today the ice is pretty thick, so everyone has a pretty firm footing to stand on, but if the ice thins out, the ice is breaking away," Calvi noted.
With a whole new appreciation for technical rescues like this one, Amanda arrived back on solid ground
The Springfield Fire Department does want to remind everyone that you should not go onto the ice if someone falls in. They said to throw them something to hold on to and call 911.
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