Whitehall firemen teach ice rescue to fellow firefighters from Dresden and Huletts


B y Lee Tugas

A day after being on “stand-by” at the Whitehall Winter Carnival, and only weeks after assisting Granville firefighters at a tragic North Granville fire, Whitehall firemen were teaching ice rescue out on Lake George.

Brian Brooks, president of the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company, said the rescue training session was simply part of the on-going fire and rescue training firemen receive. Such training can range from “smart board” instruction to dipping into the frigid waters of Lake George, he explained.

In this case, Brooks said Whitehall volunteer firefighters met with fellow firefighters from Dresden and Hulett’s Landing on Sunday. A total of 28 firefighters participated in the drill.

The purpose of the rescue training at the Huletts Island View Marina was to review three kinds of rescue of people who fall through cracked ice into the lake, Brooks said.

The first kind of rescue is to reach a victim with a ladder. The fire company president said that for specifically firefighters, forming a man-to-man chain was an image out of a movie, not a method used by fire companies.

In place of a human rescue chain, firemen extend a rescue ladder, but that is not always possible

Another method of rescue is to throw a bag, which acts as a life buoy, out to the victim. The last method, Brooks said, is for firemen to don “dry suits” and jump into the lake to rescue the victim. All three methods were reviewed at the training session.

Other training sessions described

Already thinking ahead to spring training, Brooks said fire crews would soon be practicing outside, igniting and extinguishing fires that resemble actual structure fires.

The company relies on donations of pallets as their principal fuel source in these simulated structure fires, Brooks said.

He added that he is in the process of writing a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for a grant that will enable the fire company to erect “a permanent structure” in which firemen can practice extinguishing interior blazes.

In the meantime, the fire company meets each week, either to transact business, to practice outdoor training, or to receive “indoor training” from a “state-of-the-art smart board,” Brooks said.

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