Ice And Cold Water Rescue - Part II

All personnel operating at the Awareness level should be provided with appropriate Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) or Anti-Exposure Coveralls to protect them from the elements and any unintentional entries into the cold water.


An end cap is attached to one end of one, or several hose sections, while an end cap with an air chuck valve tapped into it is attached to the other end. The hose is inflated to approximately 30 - 100 psi. This makes an excellent buoyant device for rescue personnel and the victim. The hose can also be wrapped around a 14' roof ladder which makes an excellent flotation platform. In an emergency, the hose can be inflated with a CO2 fire extinguisher with the ends of the hose folded and tied off with webbing.


Any type of flat-bottom boat is suitable for use on the ice to help distribute the weight of the rescuer and victim, and to serve as a buoyant platform should the rescuer fall through the ice. Boats are also excellent to progress through open water. The Oceanid RDC (Rapid Deployment Craft) inflates using a standard fire department SCBA bottle. This device has an opening at both ends (front and back) of the boat. The rescuer can slide the RDC across the ice or paddle it using a canoe or kayak paddle in open water. One end of the RDC is placed directly over the victim and the victim is then pulled up and onto the inflatable platform deck of the device. In lieu of a flat bottom boat, any canoe or kayak can also be used as well.


A variety of commercial sleds (Lifesaver Ice Rescue Sled or Rescue Alive) are available. They provide a stable platform on the ice and in the water. The Rescue Alive unit can be collapsed and easily stored on an apparatus and rapidly deployed at the scene of an Ice Rescue incident.


An inexpensive boogey board or snow board helps the rescuer distribute his weight across the ice, and because of the slick flat bottom, the rescuer can rapidly advance towards the distressed victim. Should the ice break, the board provides an excellent flotation platform for the rescuer and the victim. The board can also be used to progress through open water if necessary.


An inflatable kayak is an excellent and relatively inexpensive device for providing a means by which to distribute the weight of the rescuer and victim, and provide excellent buoyancy in the water for both.


Line deploying guns are excellent to deploy lines for technical water and ice rescue operations. If concurrent rescue methods are attempted, the line gun provides one means by which to coordinate efforts allowing for one team to tether to the other team to assist in their progress towards the victim.

With the use of any equipment, both the rescuer and the equipment should be tethered and manned by shore-based rescue personnel. At no time should the tether lines ever be attached to a vehicle!