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Rescue training puts firefighters on thin ice

Prince Edward County firefighters fell through the ice into the freezing water at Picton harbour Tuesday night – all part of a regular training exercise in ice and water rescue.
One by one the firefighters experience what it’s like to rescue, and be rescued. Trainer/facilitators Jim Young and Dan Claxton watch closely as single and multi-victim rescues unfold using a sling or a rescue sled.
The PEC Fire Department has three inflatable ice rescue boats, 15 Ice Commander water-entry suits, 48 life jackets and thousands of metres of new rope.
The County’s five full-time firefighters, and two volunteers from each of the seven districts, received Ontario Fire College training in 2007 and have since trained about 80 per cent of the County’s 144 volunteers.
Young says the firefighters train on the ice, snow and in freezing water in the winter and also train during the summer, when the waves are pounding the shoreline.
“We’re surrounded by water here in Prince Edward County as well as having so many inland lakes and we also go out on joint calls with the City of Belleville on the Ameliasburgh side. We have to be ready. We have the same amount of wet suits for use in the other three seasons.”
Firefighters study safety techniques, hand signals and how to use the specialized equipment.
“Working as a team is the most important aspect,” Young said. “We’re usually the first on the scene and we have to work quickly.”
The most recent winter call was in 2010 when a skater fell on the ice and hit her head.
“The ambulance called us in to get the skater off the ice and safely into the hands of the paramedics. I’m glad we haven’t had to do this too often,” Young said. “But knowing we have the proper equipment and the training to use it is reassuring.”

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  1. Bobbi-Jo says:

    Agree with Janet Very proud of you guys, thanks for the amazing job you do every day!

  2. Janet says:

    We are so very, very lucky to have this wonderful group of dedicated men! I want to thank them all for what they do for us.

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