Central Okanagan  

On thin ice

It's a call they hope they never get, but it's something the Kelowna Fire department always has to be prepared for.

Each winter groups of seven to eight firefighters train in Lake Country for an ice rescue.

Captain Ron Golling says by the time crews arrive on scene during a real emergency ice rescue the victim has been in the water for at least 10 minutes.

"They are usually too cold to grab onto anything, so a reaching assist is out, a throwing assist is out and they can't self rescue. So that means we have to go in."

The rescuer jumps into the water and grabs the victim from behind, without breaking or disturbing the ice shelf. They then hook a rope around the victim and both are hauled out of the water by two more rescuers who are on stable ice or ground.

The training is conducted on what is referred to as bad ice, which is clear and typically about an inch thick.

Golling says some people believe the ice that is covered in snow is safe to venture out on to.

"They think because they can't see through it or see the water that it's thick and safe,  but that is not true. That is your worst ice."

The Kelowna Fire Department is called out to at least one ice rescue a year and Golling claims the statistics point to fishermen who have ventured out on ice that is no longer safe. They are in the number one spot for becoming victims.

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