▶️ With lakes frozen over, Bend Fire begins annual ice rescue training

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The lakes, rivers and streams across Central Oregon have frozen over thanks to our current cold snap, meaning Bend Fire and Rescue’s ice rescue teams can get out for their annual training.

Bend Fire does this training to ensure safety and efficiency when a person or animal falls through the ice.

“It’s pretty frequent each year that we get a dog that goes in. A human goes in after them. They go in and we are now trying to get them out of the water,” firefighter Mickey Mackle said.

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In their training scenario, another firefighter plays the victim to emulate the real-life situation.

“They’ll approach that victim in the water, they’ll maintain communication with them, give them some instructions, then they’ll enter the water behind the victim,” Fire Training Captain Jeremy South said.

Once secured using the tether device, the team above the ice gets to work to pull the victim out of the water.

“Our shore-based team at that time will slide them across the ice and onto the shore so we can start treating them medically,” South said. “It’s how do we safely approach the incident to stabilize it and affect the rescue, putting us in the safest position possible to do that rescue as well as keeping the public safe.”

Bend Fire and Rescue have been forced to wait a bit this winter for the right conditions to train, but the recent storm cycle finally delivered.

“It’s good for us to practice,” Mackle said. “We don’t get to do this year-round, so it’s good to refresh our skills and just keep us up to date.”

Bend Fire and Rescue says if your pet does fall in, do not go aggressively after them. Call 911 instead.

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