EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — On Saturday, East Peoria firefighters suited up and plunged into freezing water for ice rescue training.
If a person or animal falls through ice, firefighters are the first ones on the scene.
“Time is of the essence with ice and cold water. Seconds matter when we’re dealing with victims that are in the water,” said Fire Department Lieutenant Ross Aherns.
Ahrens says rescuers have less than an hour to save someone under the ice before their life is in danger.
“They have anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes for death,” said Ahrens.
Wearing wet suits and using harnesses and floatation devices, firefighters trained and pulled team members out of the water. Ahrens says central Illinois only sees two to three ice rescues a year, but firefighters believe training is still necessary.
“Ice water rescues are something we don’t do very often, but when we do it, we need to be prepared and we need to be prepared to do it efficiently,” said firefighter Dylan Woolen.
He says it’s important for victim’s and rescuers’ safety alike. Ahrens says the Illinois River is particularily dangerous for rescues because of heavy barge traffic.
“You get sheets of ice or different chunks of ice and if you get yourself between those chunks of ice it can cause some serious problems,” said Ahrens.
Ahrens says it’s best to stay away from ice, but says if you are going out on frozen waters, make sure it’s at least four inches thick. People should also wear a life vest, and make sure someone knows where you are going.
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