Firefighters practice ice rescue with new suits

Updated: Jan. 3, 2018 at 4:58 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The cold weather impacting WAVE Country has been fortuitous for some local first responders.

Thankfully, there aren't ice rescues every day but, when they do happen they are terrifying. It just takes seconds for things to go horribly wrong.

On Wednesday, local firefighters showed off new equipment that can make their jobs easier and can help save lives.

Firefighters trained at the pond at Standard Country Club. The Jefferson County Special Operations team bought several ice rescue suits for outlying departments.

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"If we don't have ice you can't do ice rescue training," team commander for the Jefferson County Special Operations Kent Kruer said. "They have a vapor barrier and are waterproof and water can't penetrate the suit," Kruer said. "They are fully encapsulating so the suit actually help them keep warm."

To help practice, one firefighter acted like a victim, the other would be the rescuer.

"Entering cold water like that time is of the essence," Kruer said. "Minutes before someone can suffer the effects of hypothermia."

Firefighters said it was harder to get out of the water than you would think. They said every time they would try to get out, they would go right back in or the ice breaks. If you think it's a good idea to walk out on frozen water, it's really hard to tell if ice is thick enough to hold your weight.

Ice rescue for moving water is different than it is for static water. The advice that firefighters want to share is always stay off the ice, whether you want to walk, skate, or dive on it.

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