LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. - Thursday's sunshine wasted little time melting the ice covering local lakes and rivers.
The ice on Liberty Lake is still about 10 inches thick, but it's starting to lose some of its structural integrity due to recent rain and warmer weather. The Spokane Valley Fire Department took advantage of this thawing and held an ice rescue training on the lake on Thursday.
Every Winter, in fact, Valley Fire trains its first responders on how to rapidly and safely rescue people who've fallen through the ice.
Spokane Valley firefighter Darrin Coldiron said they were, “just training with the different techniques of getting out quickly onto the ice and getting in the water and performing a rescue.”
Firefighters keep themselves from falling through the ice by displacing their weight.
Thiey use a special type of boogie board to help them glide across the lake like otters.
While it is one rescuer's job to keep the victim alert and talking, their partner hits the water in a dry suit.
“He's gonna get in behind the guy and he's gonna take a rope which he has attached to himself, and put it around , clip him, get the rope up high and then give a signal which tells the rope team to begin drawing back on the rope” Colidron explained.
They rescuers must race against time, because people in the water can become hypothermic and not even able to move their arms in under seven minutes.
So you can give the Fire Department a little more time to reach you by wearing a life jacket.
“Keeping the life jacket on is going to give you those few extra minutes in the water. when you hit the water, the air is going to go out of your lungs and you need that time. You've got a whistle there that's going to be really helpful,” said Colidron.
And even if you lose consciousness, the jacket will help keep you afloat until rescuers arrive.
Ice conditions change everyday along with the weather. So if you do go out on the ice, make sure you take along something that you can use to rescue yourself.