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Evanston firefighters spent three frigid days in February training at Lovelace Park pond, learning the skills necessary to conduct a surface ice or a cold-water rescue incident.
These types of rescues are very specialized beyond the mission of providing fire-suppression and emergency medical services. The three shifts were taught pre-planning; rescuer and team safety; operation of specialized equipment and use of personal protection equipment.
Captains Glen Vanek and Paul Polep said there are unique problems associated with surface ice rescues, such as identifying the ice characteristics, operating the surface support equipment and recognizing and dealing with the victim’s situation – whether it is exhaustion, panic or hypothermia.
A RoundTable reporter who attended two training sessions observed the firefighters cutting through the ice on the pond and using poles and/or lines to rescue victims [firefighters] from the water. On Feb. 21, while the firefighters were in the midst of their training, an emergency call came in and some of the units immediately responded, returning later in the day to
complete their session.