Firefighters across the state train for ice rescues

By: Ashley Prchal Email
By: Ashley Prchal Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Firefighters from across the state have been training in Grand Junction for ice rescues.

Firefighters are taking their knowledge to the ice. For Lower Valley Firefighter Justin Dillon and many others, this is their first time rescuing someone from the freezing water.

"Rescuing is definitely hard. It's a lot harder than it looks and takes a lot of technique," he says.

In thermal red suits, they were jumping in Shadow Lake to practice their ice rescue drills. They hope to learn the skills that will prepare them for incidents like what happened last Wednesday, when a dog fell into a lake at Canyon View Park.

"With the conditions around here, it could be around once, twice, three or four times a year," says Dillon.

Bo Tibbetts is the owner of Public Safety Dive Services and his company has one of the only ice rescue programs approved by the U.S. Coast Guard in the country.

"All of the equipment, it's the same thing the U.S. Coast Guard uses," says Bo Tibbetts, owner of Public Safety Dive Services.

And Tibbetts says for firefighters in Colorado, knowing how to perform an ice rescue is crucial. "With our colder temperatures, things like this happen. It freezes and then dogs go out on the ice chasing a duck and go in," says Tibbetts.

And Tibbetts says although they'll only be called out to the ice a few times, "If these guys have the training and are prepared and at least have an awareness level, they'll know how to respond to it," says Tibbetts.

For Dillon, he will be one of six men in the Lower Valley Fire Department who is certified in ice rescue.

"It's really neat. There's this field of fire and EMS. There's a lot of different things to do and this is just another way to help people," says Dillon.

And while he hopes he doesn't have to save anyone, he feels armed with the knowledge just in case. "I feel pretty confident now," says Dillon.

With fluctuating temperatures, you never know where or when ice will melt or crack. So officials says be careful and if someone or a pet falls in call 911 immediately.

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