Marquette Fire Department learns ice rescue techniques

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Fire Department is conducting its annual ice rescue training this week.

They headed to Cinder Pond Marina with the U.S. Coast Guard Thursday to re-hone their skills.

The various techniques used to get someone who’s fallen through the ice out vary little from year to year. However, the methods do differ depending on the situation.

“It kind of runs the gamut: from talking the victim into self-rescuing, to pulling them off the ice shelf and assisting in that, to actually getting in the water with them and either removing an unconscious or [person] or a person who’s overcome by hypothermia to the point where they just can’t help themselves,” said Lt. Jeff Green of the Marquette Fire Department.

“The biggest thing for us is just keeping everybody safe on scene,” said Brett Beaudry, a relief engineer with the fire department. “Limit the people on the ice, that are actually rescuers. Make sure we always have a tagline attached to the rescuer in case they go through the ice.”

One of the best ways to make sure you don’t fall through the ice is to stay off it completely. The Marquette Fire Department urges everyone to know the conditions if you do decide to venture out.

Beaudry said, “A lot of people go out onto the ice, thinking it’s safe, and a current here or there may change things, so what we tell everyone is just to stay off, especially on Lake Superior. It’s always changing currents and changing wind direction. That can really change the ice flow, as far as day-to-day, hour-to-hour.”

“We highly recommend that you don’t venture out on Lake Superior because of the amount of currents and tributaries, and just the size of the lake and the depth of it makes the water move an awful lot, and it’s never really safe to go out onto the ice,” Green said.

Ice rescues are generally the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard, but the fire department is called in to assist on occasion.

The number of rescues they perform each season varies, but the severity of the past couple winters has seen an increase of people on the ice.