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Authorities promise 4-minute response to ice emergencies


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New rescue equipment designed to save people who break through ice-covered lakes and ponds will take no more than four minutes to arrive anywhere in the city, authorities say.

More specialized equipment will take no more than eight minutes.

The Columbus Fire Department will buy equipment valued at about $22,000 using proceeds from the sale of the city-owned vehicle assigned to the mayor. Items will be assigned to each city fire station based on the station’s proximity to water. Columbus contains 161 static bodies of water.

A rescue team from Fairfield, Ohio, has been in Columbus this week training firefighters how to use the equipment.

Station 5, which serves Tipton Lakes and other areas, and Station 2, which serves the Columbus Municipal Airport area, will be the only stations out of six to get inflatable rafts designed to work on water and ice, said David Dwyer, deputy chief of the Columbus Fire Department.

The two stations also will get special dry suits, which work better than basic suits being purchased for the other fire stations.

Dwyer said Stations 2 and 5 are geographically situated to best provide the specialized equipment to all other parts of the city.

Columbus’ most recent ice-related death occurred in December 2010, when 16-year-old Derek Lodestein broke through ice on Terrace Lake. Earlier this month, 6-year-old Trevor Young died after falling through the ice on a pond in Brown County.

Dwyer said a more rapid response would not have saved Lodestein. Nevertheless, he said, the tragedy emphasizes the need for precautions at this time of year.

Marion Sasse, whose great-grandchildren live on Terrace Lake, said she thinks ice rescue equipment is a good idea to prevent tragedy from striking again.

Daryl Gressel, of 640 Terrace Lake Road, went to the lake at the rear of his house after he had heard that Lodestein was in the water. He said rescue equipment there was incapable of reaching the boy in a timely manner.

“It’s just a good idea to buy equipment that can make such a big difference,” Gressel said. “I hope we never have another drowning.”

Ice safety

Ice fisherman Rusty Thompson, a Columbus firefighter, has safety advice if you walk on iced-over water bodies:

 Talk with neighbors or others who have been on the ice.

 Bring a friend.

 Shuffle step as you move. A short, smooth stride keeps too much weight from concentrating in one place.

 Drill a hole and measure the thickness. Don’t go onto ice that is less than 4 inches thick.

If you break through, be sure to:

 Stay calm.

 Fall flat to more evenly distribute your weight to stay afloat.

 Spread your arms. You might catch the unbroken ice on the side.

 Soak your sleeves and lay your arms on the unbroken ice. The contact might instantly freeze and help you stay up until help arrives.

Cost breakdown

The Columbus Fire Department is paying $21,675 for ice-water rescue equipment:

 2 rapid deployment, inflatable rafts, $8,800

 4 ice rescue dry suits, $2,348

 14 exposure suits, $5,390

 7 ice rescue ropes, $1,835

 5 rope pail upgrades, $250

 8 personal flotation devices, $600

 14 ice picks, 2 pole sets, 5 rescue slings, $1,712

 Valve, valve tool and snap rings, $90

 Training, $150 (meals only for rescue crew from Fairfield, Ohio, which is providing free equipment training)

 Shipping, $500

Source: Columbus Fire Department

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COLUMBUS, Ind. — New rescue equipment designed to save people who break through ice-covered lakes and ponds will take no more than four minutes to arrive anywhere in the city, authorities say.

More specialized equipment will take no more than eight minutes.

The Columbus Fire Department will buy equipment valued at about $22,000 using proceeds from the sale of the city-owned vehicle assigned to the mayor. Items will be assigned to each city fire station based on the station’s proximity to water. Columbus contains 161 static bodies of water.

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