Clark County Fire hosts ice rescue training

Published 10:12 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

Firefighters from Clark County Fire Department and other agencies from around Central Kentucky took advantage of frigid temperatures this week to prepare for a high-risk rescue scenario.

The department hosted a two-day ice rescue training at Harper Valley Farm near the Clark-Bourbon County line.

Firefighters from nine departments learned and practiced various ice rescue methods on a frozen pond under the direction of Bill Matney Rescue Training.

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CCFD Battalion Chief William Jordan said Kentucky fire departments only get the opportunity to train on ice rescue in these conditions every few years. This year, there were four firefighters, some seasoned and some new recruits, participating from Clark County and one from Winchester Fire.

“It’s really important and beneficial that we get to train in these conditions,” Jordan said. “Normally we don’t get ice that freezes hard enough to simulate training. The ice right now is actually probably more frozen than we need.”

Jordan said ice rescues are considered low-volume, high-risk rescues. The department doesn’t respond to many, but when they do, the situation can be fatal for the patient and dangerous for responders.

“You always run the risk of hypothermia,” he said. “Water pulls the heat away from the body about three times faster than air. Someone who falls in water at this temperature only has about 15 to 30 minutes before it can be fatal.”

Jordan said responders run the risk  of falling into ice already weakened by the break, not only making the rescue more difficult but presenting dangers for responders who could be pulled beneath the thick ice and trapped.

Jordan said the Clark County Fire Department trains in a number of rescue methods. In addition to the ice rescue, there are classes on trench rescue, high-angle rope rescue, swift water rescue, confined space rescue, large animal rescue farm rescue and even cave rescue. In addition to Jordan, there are two others from CCFD who are assistant instructor’s for Matney’s company, adding to the wealth of knowledge at the department.

Matney said ice training is important in rural areas like Clark County where farmers might find their livestock trapped in frozen water.

“A lot of times, livestock will wonder onto the ice looking for water and they will fall in,” he said. “Farmers might try to pull them out themselves and that is when people fall in. It’s very dangerous, so we want to make sure departments are prepared, but we also want to stress that fire departments are trained to rescue animals and people should call for help in those situations rather than risk falling in.”

Jordan said there are precautions that can be taken to avoid the dangers of frozen bodies of water.

“People should stay off the ice to avoid these dangers,” he said. “If someone does fall in can get out quickly, get them to a warm location as soon as possible. If someone falls in and is in for any amount of time, seek medical attention once they are out. However, always call 911 if someone falls in and cannot get out. Don’t try to walk out onto the ice to rescue them.

“Try tossing them a rope or something to hold onto. Keep talking to them and don’t leave them unattended.”

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0049.

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