Firefighters from Dysart et al and Highlands East participated in an ice water rescue training session on Grass Lake and Head Lake on March 20. /Submitted photo

Firefighters brought up to speed with new ice water training

By Mike Baker

Firefighters from Dysart et al and Highlands East are now better equipped for ice and water rescues after participating in a day-long training event on March 20.

In what was a collaborative approach between local departments, four firefighters from Highlands East and six from Dysart et al were put through their paces by members of the Algonquin Highlands Fire Department, who taught the course. The session took place on Head Lake and saw firefighters taught how to safely conduct rescues on frozen lakes.

Dysart fire chief Mike Iles said it had been quite some time since his department had been trained in ice water rescue.

“This course was finally approved, so we were excited to get out there. We had a good opportunity here to get one course in before the ice melted,” Iles said. “It’s all very unique training specific to ice water rescue, and was very worthwhile.”

Iles noted the Dysart department has provided an ice rescue service for several years. He said he expects his department to participate in additional training sessions in the fall, once the ice in the lake is stable again.

George Sharp, a firefighter with the Algonquin Highlands department, instructed the course. He said the participants spent a full day studying and training, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The session combined both theory and practical work – with the firefighters spending time studying the different skills, techniques and procedures before heading out onto Head Lake.