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First Responders Take to the Ice for Dangerous Rescues

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AMHERST, Mass (WGGB) – After two incidents in the past two days with people falling into the ice, focus is drawn to ice safety this time of year.

Amherst Fire Department Captain Brian Sterling says the late winter season is when most incidents like this occur.

“The fact that it’s been a 30 degree day yesterday and 40 degrees day the day before- that can change the ice and people aren’t use to it,” says Sterling.

For many firefighters, ice rescue is their most difficult and scary part of the job.

“The most dangerous thing hands down, if you listen to anybody in the rescue business, is dealing with water,” Sterling adds.

The Emergency Personnel are trained and prepared with the right equipment. “The Rotary Club in Amherst bought us number of suits, ice rescue sleds, ropes and hooks,” says Sterling as he showed us the rescue supplies today.

Then he demonstrated a few different types of strategies for a rescue. 

The first, a single-man rescue: “The first thing anyone does is grab any part of the body that’s close to them,” says the Captain. Then the responder goes behind the victim, secures a harness and gives the okay for those on land to pull in the responder and victim.

Another technique can save multiple people at a time, using a sled.

When tragedy happens on the ice, responders don’t have a second to spare. “Time, time, time…you got to get there. You got to get there quick and get in the water,” says Sterling.

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