The Helena Fire Department trains for ice rescues

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Posted at 6:06 PM, Dec 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 11:33:56-05

HELENA — On Tuesday, the Helena Fire Department was at Spring Meadow Lake State Park to practice ice rescues.

“What we’re doing today is our annual ice rescue training,” said Robbie Bennett, the Helena Fire Department Captain.

Using ropes and a sled, the fire department practices rescuing single and multiple victims.

The department has several different techniques used to rescue people from the ice.

“We use of the technique of reach, throw, row, go, so we'll use makeshift items to try to reach somebody, we’ll throw ropes to them. If that doesn’t work well use our ice rescue sled. Take somebody out there or we’ll also go in the water to get them out as well,” Bennett said.

After slipping on their yellow dry suits, they went out into the ice to rescue a fellow firefighter stuck in the water.

The department needs to practice this training every year because there are so many bodies of water in Helena. This training also allows them to help other departments if necessary.

This type of rescue is uncommon but the firefighters need to be prepared in case they do need to save someone.

“We train so when the situation arises, we can just go into action,” said Bennett.

The fire department says the best way to avoid needing their service is to be safe and prepared when around ice.

“A big thing is to watch the weather. Know how much ice is on the lake. Know what you’re doing. Make sure you have either ice cleats or ice picks so if you do fall through you can get out,” Bennett said.