Olathe firefighters train for freezing water rescues - KCTV5

Olathe firefighters train for freezing water rescues

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OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -

Once the snow storm passes, it's the temperatures people need to worry about as lows are expected to dip into the negative digit.

Olathe firefighters spent much of Saturday morning in the water making sure they can keep people safe if they fall through the ice.

"Like any other rescue we do, we don't know when they're going to happen. We have to train when the opportunity arises," said Capt. Bill Schneider with the Olathe Fire Department.

Saturday the conditions were nearly perfect, but that probably won't be the case when someone inevitably wanders out on a pond and finds trouble.

"When we go on these near-drowning incidents, these surface rescues, we're looking at terrain, we're looking at the condition of the ice. When the ice gets thinner, it starts cracking," Schneider said. "Obviously we have bad ice, otherwise we wouldn't be called out."

The Olathe Fire Department keeps immersion suits on every truck.

"They keep you warm, you could be out in that cold water for hours," said Firefighter Mark Robbins.

Robbins said they try to do the training at least once a year to stay familiar with the equipment and the technique they need for pulling someone from the ice before hypothermia sets in.

"It's very important, it's the thing that's going to keep me going home to my family after each shift," he said.

Schneider said the most common scenario is a child or animal that has gone onto the ice and fallen through.

"We may even have two or three people in the ice because they tried to help. We consider those people rescuers who failed at their task, so now we have to go get them," he said.

Schneider said it's best to stay off the ice, even when it's this thick.

"There's a really good ice rink in Crown Center. We recommend you take advantage of that rather than out here where someone could fall through," he said.

Fire officials say the best thing to do if you do fall through ice is keep calm and don't panic, because that makes rescues even more dangerous.

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