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Archive for Friday, January 18, 2008

Icy pond provides rescue practice

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical's Troy Gourley, foreground, is helped out of frigid water and onto a sheet of ice by Lt. John Mathis on Friday at the West Campus Pond at Kansas University. The department conducted ice rescue training as part of its annual training exercises.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical's Troy Gourley, foreground, is helped out of frigid water and onto a sheet of ice by Lt. John Mathis on Friday at the West Campus Pond at Kansas University. The department conducted ice rescue training as part of its annual training exercises.

January 18, 2008

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Emergency workers brave icy pond to practice water rescues

Summer may be months away, but that doesn't mean accidents at lakes and ponds in Lawrence can't happen. 6News reporter Cory Smith braved the bitter cold and caught up with the Douglas County Fire & Medical Department as they broke the ice on water rescues. Enlarge video

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical personnel, from left, Rick Laughlin, TIm Childers and John Hawkins pull stranded co-workers from the ice during an ice training exercise on Friday, January 18, 2008 at the West Campus Pond at Kansas University.  Below freezing temperatures provided the perfect environment for the annual ice training exercise.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical personnel, from left, Rick Laughlin, TIm Childers and John Hawkins pull stranded co-workers from the ice during an ice training exercise on Friday, January 18, 2008 at the West Campus Pond at Kansas University. Below freezing temperatures provided the perfect environment for the annual ice training exercise.

It looked like a Polar Bear Club practice session as Douglas County fire and rescue workers braved freezing temperatures and frigid waters Friday as part of their annual water rescue training.

"It kind of freaks you out at first," said Capt. Sandy Herd, laughing after she pulled one of her fellow rescuers from the water. The 11-year paramedic laughs at the fact that, "no matter how well you're protected, you're going into a deep black hole, and it's cold."

Dressed in waterproof suits and protective gear, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical crews took turns playing victim and rescuer. The one constant: Everybody had to take a dip in the bitter cold of a pond on Kansas University's West Campus. The temperature outside the water was 18 degrees.

"It's very important," said Division Chief Joe Hoelscher, "because this replicates real-life conditions."

Hoelscher explained the planning and procedures that go into a water rescue with ease - making it one of those "easier said than done" scenarios.

"They'll crawl out onto the ice," he said. "They'll enter the broken ice and water, come from behind the victim, secure them to the line, and then a shore team will pull the two to safety."

The hardest parts of the rescue, Hoelscher said, are locating the victim, determining an action plan and "going out to get them, hopefully within the time frame that the victim still has to survive."

Rescue workers must combine fast thinking with faster action as a victim's body begins to react to the water's low temperature. Hoelscher said the loss of body heat can quickly lead to hypothermia, making every second a victim is in the water crucial.

Despite the freezing temperatures and frozen workspace, Herd and her partner seemed to enjoy taking a winter plunge.

"We know, of course, in a real situation there's going to be a lot of stress and tension," she said. "But today it was fun."

6News reporter Cory Smith can be reached at 832-6335.

Comments

Christine Pennewell Davis 6 years, 11 months ago

I would say your nuts but I know it is not true thank you for your dedication.

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