Lexington firefighters use cold weather to practice ice rescues

A big concern this time of year is frozen ponds and creeks.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 11:43 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A big concern this time of year is frozen ponds and creeks.

Recently, it has been cold enough some have a frozen over, but it’s likely thin ice.

It takes about two inches of ice to support one person on a frozen pond or river and while we may think it’s cold enough to make that much ice, typically it’s not. That’s when the Lexington Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team gets a call.

“I know of at least two years where we’ve done ice training and had to leave ice training to go make an ice rescue,” said Cpt. Dustin Whited, Lexington Fire Department. “Just like us, the people don’t always have ice and when they do they get out on it and play, like we are today with our training. They’ll get out on it and play or mess around and fall through because it’s not thick enough.”

Monday morning, technical rescue team members took turns getting into the water and practicing life-saving ice rescue techniques.

Officials say that they don’t get many opportunities to practice because we don’t always have the amount of ice on ponds and rivers that lends itself to training.

“The things that we do a lot we get good at because of repetition,” Cpt. Whited said. “Things like this that you have once a year, once every other year, are really dangerous.”

The rescue team will be moving from spot to spot practicing different methods of saving someone stuck in ice, using harnesses, boogie boards, dry suits and even a boat to try to make their limited practice time as useful as possible.

Fire officials want to emphasize that you shouldn’t play on frozen ponds unless you’re sure that there’s plenty of ice.

Officials say, generally, we don’t see the amount of prolonged cold temperatures to freeze ponds that deep, so it’s best to go to an actual skating rink, instead of trying to make one on your own.

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