KCK firefighters train for ice rescues

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Firefighters with KCKFD say they haven’t been able to train for ice rescues in a few years due to mild winters, but Saturday they got back on the ice to hone their skills.

“The last two or three winters have been so mild that the ice has not really been thick enough to where we can get out and do it and practice safely,” said Scott Hawley, Assistant Fire Chief and Chief in charge of the rescue division at the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department.

Right now the ice is nearly six inches thick on parts of Wyandotte County lake and the water beneath is freezing cold.

Firefighters say these are perfect conditions to practice life-saving ice rescue skills.

Each of the 20 firefighters took turns playing the victim, jumping into the frigid water.

Their fellow firefighters crawled to their rescue and pulled them to safety.

Hawley says it's not always easy to see the challenges created by ice.

“So we have to work on dispersing our weight out across the thin ice, getting to that person and then when we go to pull them out, what could happen is we get back up on the ice and we have the weight of two people so we could fall through again,” said Hawley.

Part of the training, firefighters worked on escaping the ice on their own.

“So if we were to be going out to rescue somebody and we fall through the ice ourselves. That way we're able to get ourselves out of that hole and then go on to continue with the rescue,” said Hawley.

The skills they are practicing don’t come into play too often, but if anyone ever does fall through the ice, these firefighters will be ready.

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