Training to save lives: North Shore Fire Department officials reinforce skills when it comes to ice rescues

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RIVER HILLS (WITI) -- It's a situation North Shore Fire Department officials don't want to find themselves in, but they need to be prepared. That's why each year all of their crews are involved in ice rescue training, practicing efficiency and speed.

"When our rescue engine gets on the scene, they have a bag that has all the equipment they need and they can be down to the shoreline and out on the ice in a matter of minutes," North Shore Fire Captain Tom Race said.

Minutes can be critical when it comes to saving a life.

"We have to read the ice conditions and then decide whether or not we can reach the victim or throw something to the victim," Captain Race said.

If that's not possible, they'll get in the water. The gear that the firefighters use during their training is very important. They wear buoyant waterproof suits.

As the firefighters were short on victims to use during their training, FOX6's Laura Langemo was the lucky volunteer! After getting the air out of her suit so she was no longer floating, a firefighter in the water with her tied a rope around her waist and she was then dragged to safety.

If the ice conditions are too dangerous for a firefighter to get into the water, they use a rapid deployment craft or RDC.

"The RDC will obviously float and we`ll be able to move that out on the ice to make the rescue off of the boat or RDC," Captain Race said.

It's important training that helps firefighters save lives.

CLICK HERE for tips on staying safe while on the ice via the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the North Shore Fire Department.