Forty volunteers from Level Volunteer Fire Company, Water Witch, Abingdon, Aberdeen, Darlington, Joppa-Magnolia and the Harford County Technical Rescue Team practiced ice rescue procedures in a training led by Capt. Bill Reeder of the Susquehanna Hose Company.
In addition to learning techniques in a classroom at the Level fire hall, firefighters got hands-on experience at the Churchville pond off MD Route 155 near Churchville Elementary School, according to Capt. Clinton Polk of Level Fire Company.
Water rescues are not common but they do occur. In its district, Level handles two to three water-related rescues a year, Assistant Chief Rhonda Hinch said.
"In recent years, it has been vehicles that drive into ponds," Hinch said.
"Occasionally, rescues occur in the Susquehanna River," Hinch said. In those cases, Level provides manpower and emergency medical assistance on shore while Darlington and the Susquehanna Hose Company provide boats.
Hinch offered the following tips for people trying to stay safe around ice:
- Don't go out on any icy body of water. You never know how thick the ice is going to be, and it may not hold your body weight.
- Never attempt to save an animal that has fallen through the ice. If it didn't hold their weight, it isn't going to hold yours. Call animal control for assistance. Animal rescues usually turn into human rescues.