West Kelowna  

Fire fighters break through training

The frozen waters of Green Bay made for the perfect ice rescue training ground for West Kelowna fire fighters.

Crew members train for ice rescues over a week's period every year.

Assistant fire chief Chad Gartrell says members go back to their basic core skills when it comes to helping those trapped in the water.

"We help those who are in the water rescue themselves, we assist them from outside the water, us going in and actually hooking them up to our rope system and having them pulled out of the water."

In anticipation for the exercise, crew members attend areas on the Westside where an ice rescue may occur and will test the ice to see if it makes for a possible training ground.

"We have to determine if we have clear ice that is strong, whether it is easy to break through. (We look at) the amount of tracks that are around the ice, so how many residents are using it and are out there," explains Gartrell. "We try to find a spot where it is a natural opening, we don't want to cut open the ice to make a spot to train because then that leaves a danger spot for any of the residents who do live around here."

The duration one can spend in the water, after falling through the ice, is dependent on both weather conditions and the health of the individual. However if someone does break through Gartrell says they should make as much noise as possible to alert anyone in the area who can call for help.

"If you are strong you can start kicking toward the edge and start to pull yourself up on, and if you do make it out of the ice you want to get out of the cold temperatures as soon as possible so hypothermia doesn't kick in."

Members train in teams of six, the number that would respond to a technical ice rescue of one victim fallen through ice.

The crew will be out in the Green Bay area for the rest of the week.



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