1. #1
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    Default Ice Rescue Suits - Suggested Brands/Models?

    Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with different brands of ice rescue suits? I'd prefer the ones that only allow your face to get wet.

    We're planning on getting a couple and don't know which brands to look at.

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    In the US, pretty much the Stearns ice rescue suit, and the Mustang ice commander rescue suit are the standard.

    One thing to remember with the Mustang suit though... you either need to wear an external PFD, or use the internal flotation insert as the shell does not have inherent flotation. Also, thermal protection is not nearly what you'd have with the Stearns neoprene suit, so warm clothing underneath would be a must. You will have better mobility with the Mustang suit, however.

    The Mustang version is usally about $100 more than the Stearns. Personally, I think the Stearns is more durable as you don't have the fragile areas where the glove/neck seals interface with the suit material.

    We've been happy with Stearns. Just roll them carefully, or store them ready-to-don on big hangers hanging... neoprene creases easily. Wax the zippers as well.
    http://www.mustangsurvival.com/produ...oduct.php?id=6


    http://www.stearnsinc.com/Industrial...goryID=5675299
    Last edited by Resq14; 11-17-2005 at 12:37 AM.
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    Default Ice Rescue Suits

    I would have to agree, you can't go wrong with Stearns ice resue suit or the Mustang Ice Comander. We also have the Stearns suits and have been very happy with them.

    Brad L. Tracey
    PA State Water Rescue Instructor/ Trainer

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    Smile Ice Suit

    I also agree. The Mustang suits are the top of the line. My department has four and hope to get the fire chief's approval to buy one more this week.

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    I'll put my vote in for the Mustang, we had the sterns for years and the mustang blows it away.
    With the sterns you need a PFD, the mustang suit doesn't need one since the liner floats.

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    Thanks guy! I appreciate the input.

    JFDdan

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADSNWFLD
    I'll put my vote in for the Mustang, we had the sterns for years and the mustang blows it away.
    With the sterns you need a PFD, the mustang suit doesn't need one since the liner floats.
    The Stearns Ice Rescue Suit does not require the use of a PFD... this is the red/orange neoprene suit.

    The Mustang Ice Commander does need a PFD for rescue use, unless you have/use the 'flotation liner'... this is the yellow/black suit.

    And remember: these should NEVER be used in moving water/swiftwater--especially the Stearns Ice Rescue Suit. Rescue swimmer drysuits (or appropriate wetsuits) should be used instead. The Mustang Ice Commander could probably be used in a pinch if the flotation can be removed.
    Last edited by Resq14; 11-29-2005 at 11:18 AM.
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    The Stearns doesn't provide enough bouyancy for rescue work by itself. A victim can crawl up on you submerging you with ease.
    The Mustang shouldn't be worn without the liner, if you develop a tear you probably aren't a good enough swimmer to prevent yourself from drowning. The different in fabric and bouyancy makes it very difficult to wear a PFD and do anything useful.
    Not that it doesn't exist but I haven't seen a policy from an ice rescue class that advocates not wearing a PFD with the Stearns.

    I've also found the Mustang to be a bit more durable and easy to repair if needed.

    Take Dive Rescue's surface ice rescue class. It wiould be well worth your time.

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    Do you have pictures of anyone anywhere doing this, or a SOP/SOG? I've never seen anyone wear a Stearns Ice Rescue suit with a PFD... not saying it's wrong... I just don't understand why you would want to with the inherent buoyancy of thick neoprene. If anything, I would make someone in a non-neoprene suit wear one.

    And I've taken several ice rescue classes, the most recent from Lifesaving Resources, Inc.
    "Practical sessions require each participant to wear either a Cold Water/Ice Rescue Suit or a Dry Suit with a PFD." -LRI

    I'm all for safety, but to me, having worn them quite a bit, it seems a little excessive. Ice Rescue Suits give rescuers 30-40 pounds of inherent buoyancy. This is enough so that we can safely operate without a PFD. It's always possible to get submerged/splashed/crawled-on/etc. This is why we are taught to provide the patients with something to hold on to, then approach from behind. Additionally, we're taught self-protective techniques including push-off maneuvers.

    ***************
    Ok I found this:
    "Equipment Adjuncts

    To make the use of the Cold Water/Ice Rescue Suit more effective, we recommend several additional rescue devices to be used with this suit.

    Inflatable Vests

    Once the tethered rescuer reaches the victim, he can inflate the vest by pulling on the inflation cord or by manually blowing into the inflation tube. The use of an inflation vest provides the rescuer with 20 - 35 lbs. of additional buoyancy to assist in keeping the victim buoyant while being pulled to shore by support personnel. (Shown here is the Stearns Manual Inflatable PFD)"
    http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/022599b.htm

    I can buy wearing an inflatable one for the "just in case" factor. Otherwise, I say it's overkill and the cons outweigh the pros since most of us only require about 10 pounds of buoyancy to stay afloat...
    Last edited by Resq14; 12-06-2005 at 06:23 AM.
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    I like the inflatable PFD idea.
    We are still operating on sop's from the mid 80's prior to the development of the Ice Commander, all we had for years was the Stearns (Gumby) suit. Since the Stearns suit hasn't changed we haven't . Dive Rescue came out and did a class in 87 and that's how we have operated ever since.

    Perhapse it may be about time to re evaluate our procedures.
    Thanks for the research I really do like the inflatable PFD

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    Thumbs up Ice Rescue

    You need to get with Dive Rescue International. They have updated their class with some new proceders. I just had two firefighters attend a class in Fort Collins Co. and they are updating the whole department this month.

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    We did our initial ice training with Lifeguard Systems in 97 and members continue to go. Never used a PFD with the Stearns. We have tried really hard to get under water in them and it just won't happen. A question on the Mustang Ice Commander, can you use it in warm weather without the thermal / floatation as a poor man's dry suit? I would figure you could use a PFD with it.

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    You can definetly submerge in a Stearns Ice Rescue Suit... hence the concern for aspirating water upon facial exposure to cold water. Remember that they're not Superman suits, and more than one would-be rescuer has died while wearing one of these.

    As far as wearing the Mustang Ice Commander as a type of dry suit, I don't see why you couldn't... for surface rescue use. I don't think I'd dive with it, given its lack of valves, and uncertainty as to the types of seals used on transition points.
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    My department uses the Mustang Ice Commander suit. We looked into if we could use the suit without the liner. The manufacturers insturctions say the suit is not ment to be used without the inner liner in place. Now, I would think it would still work as long as you used a PFD because the suit would have no floatation otherwise.

    As for the suit it is great. I have never had a problem with being cold, etc. with them. In fact, most of the time you get too warm. The only problem we have had with them is that on one suit, a piece of ice cut a small slit into one of the gloves. That only happended once and was an easy fix.

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    If you were in the Mustang without the liner and developed a tear you would fill up and sink. With the liner in you do get a bit hot but it isn't worth the risk of not having the liner in.

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    JFDdan,
    The Mustang suit is the only suit we purchase. We got to try them both before we bought them and it was the mustang with no questions. We are in Northern MN on the Canadian border and have been out training in them in -10 weather with a wind chill and you could wear shorts in these suits. As far as flotaton with the liner, they are excellent. If anyone needs training in the northern midwest Atlas Outfitters is who we used and they were very well experienced in water rescue and have a very good training program.
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    We had been using the older sterns suits but we went to the Ice Commanders because they fit various size people better. we have had people from 5 feet to 6 feet 8 able to use the same size suit
    Last edited by captaincvfd; 03-02-2009 at 11:40 AM.

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    Default Ice Rescue Suits

    As far as being able to sink a Sterns Ice Rescue I'm sure it can be done, but its going to take alittle more than 2 people and its alot easier to sink a Mustang with just a PFD on. Both suits have there limitations on what you can do with them. Neither is made for swiftwater and both can get water in them either by tearing or by water coming in around the neck like the Stearns could. Any thing that could happen will happen sooner or later.

    I have made some of my student’s wear PFD’s with the older Stearns Ice rescue suits. Remember there are two different suits on the market one that was Coast Guard approved and one that wasn't. Our policy is that is there is no CG approval you must put a PFD on overtop. Cumbersome, you bet. But necessary. The sizing issue does present much of a problem anymore,with the oversize suit that Stearns has now most of the rescue personal. Trying to put a 5 foot person in either suit does open a challenge, especially if you have a lot of webbing and someone who is good at tying knots to them fit into the suit better. If this is a problem than get yourself a custom made drysuit and put your PFD on over top. Its works just the same.

    I have no interest in using inflatable pfd’s in an rescue environment. There are just to may things that could go wrong and my life and teams safety are worth far to much to take that kind of chance.

    The best way to find out what suit you want to buy is to try both on and see how they work for you in your application. The only person who can make up your mind is you!

    Be Careful & Stay Safe,

    Brad L. Tracey
    PA State Water Rescue Instructor/ Trainer

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    the mustang suit. out fer training during the winter and stayed completly dry and warm. its a little hard to "burp" the suit but once you play with it you wont have any problems.

    jay

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    I would use a Mustang Ice Commander..Here are the reasons.. One it will always float even with the zipper wide open..Tested this theroy 3x all the same result. Some one said that you needed to wear a pfd with the suit well Im from Canada and we have just redid or firefighter Guidance notes to read that you do not have to wear a pfd with the suit. You need to remember that these suits were not made for the rescue service but the marine industry. They are not going to change its rating for pfd use as it will cost thousands$$$$ And where to u attach the life line if you wear a pfd if its to the back of the pfd then are you going to be pulled out of the hole with the victim on your back. OUCH. pfd is safety backup use it if u must

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