On Tuesday, the Somers Fire Department, in collaboration with the Hazardville Fire Department, participated in ice/water training.
According to Somers Fire Department Chief Gary Schiessl, this training is conducted yearly and is critical in the event that a person breaks through the ice on a body of water or is otherwise stranded – say if a kayak overturned.
The collaboration between the departments is very important.
“We rely on each other for backup and train on the same equipment and procedures so that we can integrate smoothly at an emergency scene,” Schiessl said.
Schiessl said that there are two types of methods that can be used to rescue someone in an ice/water emergency situation. The first is the “throw” method, where the rescuers try to access a victim utilizing a rope thrown from the shore.
The second is the “go” method, where a firefighter gains access to the individual by crawling across the ice, dropping into the water, and assisting the victim to shore via a rope that is pulled by other firefighters on shore.
With this “go” method, another option is to use an ice rescue sled that allows a firefighter to move across open water or unstable ice to access the victim. The victim is then loaded onto the sled, and both the rescuer and victim are pulled to shore by the support crew.
According to Schiessl, the Somers Fire Department has four ice rescue suits that are utilized for these rescues. These are “dry” suits that protect the firefighter and provide buoyancy.
“They do not allow us to dive underwater to rescue a victim,” he said. “We have one certified rescue diver in the department and also utilize the Tolland County Dive Team for additional help.”
Schiessl said that the department has not had to rescue an individual in many years, but has saved several dogs that have fallen through the ice.