OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Firefighters with the Overland Park Fire Department spent the afternoon Friday at South Lake Park practicing ice water rescues.
It was the first time the department was able to conduct such training in three years, one of the few benefits of the Arctic blast that plunged temperatures across the Midwest well below freezing for the last few weeks.
“We try and get out here anytime there is ice over the ponds,” Tyler Carey, who helped lead the training, said.
According to Carey, ice rescues are rare but extremely time-sensitive.
“Within 15 to 20 minutes, things can go from OK to very bad,” he said. “Within a couple minutes, you start losing dexterity, you start losing motor function and then things just go downhill from there.”
Every firefighter in Overland Park is trained for ice rescues.
The first thing they tell victims who have fallen into the water is to place their arms out in front of them on top of the ice.
“The thought process is if their sleeves are soaking wet and if it’s cold enough, if they keep their arms out on the ice they will actually freeze to the top layer of the ice to keep them afloat while we are ready to go out and get them,” Carey said.