TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - In the past five weeks alone, six people died on local ice. That’s why the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department’s ‘Ice Resuce Team’ from Firehouse 5 trains now to prevent that from happening in the future.
“We’re going to get you to shore,” a firefighter yells from shore to the ‘victim,’ who is actually a TFRD captain.
“Our ice rescue emergencies are very high risk,” Lieutenant Ron Kay said.
Safety officers Ron Kay and Greg Yingling ran the drills. They donned special drysuits to assist the captain who hacked through the ice.
"Lot of mechanisms on here to be sure that we’re safe, as far as being tied off," Kay said of the suits.
That’s important on the Maumee and Ottawa Rivers, where the so-called “River Rats” get dispatched.
“We’ve got ponds, we’ve got rivers/streams, and wev’e got the lake. So they’re all different,” Lieutenant Yingling said.
"It really is challenging," Kay said. "It requires a lot of training."
"Well above and beyond the average firefighter," he added.
That training kicked in just over a week ago in Point Place, when the team had to recover two bodies at night.
"The worst things that can happen to us are when it’s night, when it’s cold, and when it’s windy," Yingling said.
Fire House Five has special tools like this unique banana boat, slings, and sleds.
"The sled is for someone who’d be extremely hypothermic and can’t assist us," Yingling said.
Because the Zodiac, life preservers, and drysuits are all prepped ahead of time, and there’s a long checklist, the response times for the ice rescue team is faster than ever.