Based on our research of ice rescue incidents and fatalities during the years 2006 & 2007, approximately 85% of the incidents were initiated as a result of humans venturing out onto the ice to rescue a domestic animal. The purpose of this article is three-fold. First, we need to educate the public about the need to control their pets and to prevent them from going out onto the ice because no ice should ever be considered as being "safe ice". Second, we need to also educate the public to call 911, rather than to make an attempt to rescue their pets that have fallen through the ice. And, third, First Responder agencies and their personnel need to be trained and equipped to properly, effectively, and safely respond to domestic animal rescues on and through the ice.
In February 2004, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published NFPA 1670: Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents. The purpose of this standard is to minimize threats to rescuers while conducting operations at technical SAR incidents, and the standard deals specifically with identifying and establishing levels of functional capability for conducting technical rescue operations safely and effectively. Although these standards were designed for all types of Technical Rescue operations, they also address water and ice rescue operations.
On July 13, 2004, a 55-year-old man collapsed in the Medina (Ohio) Aquatic and Fitness Center. The aquatic manager for the city, Darlene Donkin, responded and assessed him to be in cardiac arrest. Although Donkin was a CPR instructor and taught more than 100 classes on the subject, she had never actually performed it in a life-and-death situation prior to this incident.
The following incidents and places, as well as the circumstances surrounding them, are fictional. On the Scene Dispatch at 16:04 hrs: KGT-597 to Rescue 15, respond to Bakersville Pond off Cemetery Island for a report of a dog through the ice, approximately 100 yards from shore.
DALLAS, April 1 - Chest compressions alone, or Hands-Only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), can save lives and can be used to help an adult who suddenly collapses, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement.
TWO BOYS, age 11, are ice skating at a local pond. Suddenly, the ice cracks and one boy falls through into 34 degree Fahrenheit water. His friend runs to his aid, and potential tragedy grows as the second boy is pulled into the ice cold water by the panic stricken child already in the water. Unless help is immediately available, both boys will perish within a few minutes, either from drowning or hypothermia (decreased body temperature).
Based on a 1961 study at Williamston, MI, conducted by the Michigan State Police, the Indiana University Health and Safety Department, the Michigan Highway Department, and the American Red Cross, it was estimated that approximately 400 persons lose their lives as a result of being trapped in automobiles that have plunged into the water.
Properly recognizing and managing suspected spinal injuries caused by head-first entries into the water require high levels of training. Lifeguards and other water rescue personnel must be able to evaluate the signs and symptoms associated with spinal trauma and the manner in which an injury occurs. The rescuer should assume that a spinal injury exists if the forces causing the trauma were sufficient to damage the spine.