Warren FD conducts Ice Rescue Course

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mattison Cole
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Members of the F.E. Warren Fire Department held an Ice Rescue Course on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, Jan. 23-26, 2024. 

The course was organized to bring awareness to and preparation for ice hazards that commonly occur during harsh Wyoming winters. Many base residents move to Wyoming from completely different climates and some may have never seen icy conditions at all. 

The two-day course started in the classroom for one day and then moved to South Pearson Lake on base for the second. The classroom course informs students of the rescue process if someone is submerged in an icy lake and also the types of ice and ice formations that may show signs of weakened ice. It also teaches victim assessment to enable students to successfully evaluate a potential victim's condition such as hypothermia. Developing a response plan during an ice rescue is a key component to saving a life in jeopardy. 

The field exercise allows students to put their new-found knowledge into action and to stimulate realistic challenges. The students execute self-rescue techniques, reach techniques, throw techniques and go techniques. Go techniques include having a rescue sling and an ice rescue board, and they are designed to train students for commonly encountered problems, such as equipment failure, ice condition challenges, patient decomposition mid-rescue, and new information being introduced about the victim mid-rescue.

Jeremie Barrett, F.E. Warren Fire Department captain, conducts the training program. After participating in the Dive Rescue International “Ice Rescue Trainer” course in March 2023, Barrett has been leading the course for just short of a year. Barrett decided to take on leading the course due to how ice water rescues were being conducted prior. 

“Prior to receiving this training, we were utilizing equipment and techniques designed for other purposes to respond to ice water rescues,” said Barrett. “While that was getting the job done, I never had that warm fuzzy feeling about how we were doing it. So, when our Deputy Chief, Senior Master Sgt. [Glenn] Rogers, arrived on station and said we should seek out formal training, I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of, so that when that call comes, our department would have the knowledge, skills and confidence to perform a rescue.”

Members of local fire departments in Laramie County were invited to participate in the course, helping base firefighters to engage with local firefighters. Community engagement is a key aspect in strengthening the bonds between the base and those fire departments, and inviting members from the Cheyenne Fire Department to participate in the course alongside military members not only helps build trust between the community and the base, but helps the members to be knowledgeable on what to do in case of an accidental fall in.

“Well, the only way to strengthen bonds is through contact and interaction,” said Barrett. “Our whole purpose on this base is to serve and protect the base community, so the more we engage with the community, the better they know us and we them.”

Barret explains that one of the biggest takeaways from the course is the confidence and knowledge learned along the way on how to respond to ice rescue emergencies. Having the proper equipment and an industry standard helps add in an extra level of confidence that if an ice rescue emergency did occur, it would be handled properly to ultimately save lives.