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Crews practice ice rescues

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Firefighters ready their equipment to practice rescuing someone from the ice on Sunday.

ALPENA — Thunder Bay was a cool 30 to 35 degrees this weekend, perfect for local firefighters to train on how to rescue someone from the ice.

Wearing orange suits that are one giant piece of clothing, firefighters from around Alpena County came together over the weekend to learn how to save someone who has fallen into the icy water.

The men and women completed lectures at Alpena Community College to learn what to do on the water.

They then put their knowledge to the test on Sunday afternoon — and into the evening, because ice rescues can happen at any time — completing scenarios while saving other firefighters who acted as victims from the cold water.

They all experienced being in the water, needing to be rescued, crawling on the ice to save the person who needed to be rescued with the necessary equipment, and pulling the person back to shore safely.

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Local firefighters are pulled back to safety after going through a scenario of saving someone who had fallen through the ice on Sunday.

“If someone is out there on the ice, how are we going to get them out?” Gregg Krobbel, lead instructor with Michigan Rescue Concepts, said.

The firefighters did victim search scenarios, in which they were only given basic witness information from someone who saw a person in the water.

“They come walking out as they would in real life and they would establish a command officer and he would dispatch his team to make the rescue,” Krobbel said. “They get a feel of what it’s like in real life.”

Some firefighters were nervous, since it was their first time completing ice rescues, while others were ready for the challenge.

“I’ve done ice rescue about three times, and I’ve never had the current like we have here, so it’s a different environment than I’m used to,” Alpena Township firefighter Kevin Galloway said.

The one-size-fits-all orange suits give firefighters warmth and buoyancy. They’re only used in cold water situations.

The suits come equipped with a hood to keep the water from going inside the suit, gloves that help grab the victim, and boots to keep feet warm.

“They help us to not become victims,” Hubbard Lake firefighter Anna Hanna said of the suits.

Though the suits are used in cold temperatures, Krobbel said firefighters get hot in them.

Lt. Tom Tolen, of the Alpena Township Fire Department, asked questions at random times to the firefighters of what they would do in certain situations.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.

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