Saturday night when most folks were winding down from a week’s work, 27 fire/rescue and EMT personnel from Westmoreland, Oak Grove and Cople districts were in class learning ice rescue methods. Sunday morning found them on the ice at Gardys Mill Pond in an effort to certify as ice rescue technicians.
Donning yellow ice rescue suits, they ran through such drills as “hope on a rope” where a rope is fastened to a victim who fell through ice and pulled to safety, the “Stokes basket recovery” where the victim is packed in a sturdy basket and pulled by others to safety and the “inflatable rescue boat recovery” using a small inflatable rescue craft.
The older stand-by buoy ring was thrown to an ice fall-through volunteer and again, reeled onto shore by rope.
Captain Ed Arnest and Chief JB Butler explained the procedures as mandatory, stemming from past and present dangers of people and animals falling through ice. The recovery process can be very dangerous if such equipment and training were not available.
Considering the number of bodies of water and 250 miles of shoreline in Westmoreland County, this life saving training is paramount.