Indiana rescuers learn ice rescue at Homeland Security's Camp Atterbury
January 24, 2011
CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind., (Army News Service, Jan. 19, 2011) -- With an average of two people dying in ice-related incidents each year in Indiana, the state's Department of Homeland Security's training compound invited 31 firemen, emergency medical technicians and policemen from 16 different organizations to learn how to react in the case of an emergency.
Chip Sunier, preparedness coordinator with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security at Camp Atterbury believes that raising awareness and teaching the public how to react to ice-related accidents is the key to preventing further incidents from occurring while out on the ice.
"You don't keep a fire extinguisher in your house because you plan on your house catching fire. You keep it just in case. Same principle here. We want to arm people with knowledge, not because they should expect an incident to occur, but so they how to react if one does," Sunier said.
Indiana State Trooper Rachael Hunt, a Sellerburg, In. native said, "It's really great that we get to come out here and actually practice these skills. I've never had the opportunity to practice this in real life before."
This time of year poses the greatest risk for ice-related injuries, according to Sunier. As temperatures fluctuate, ice thaws, refreezes, gets rained on, and then is covered with snow. This effect creates what Sunier calls "white ice," which is much weaker than clear, newly frozen ice.
Ice conditions such as these only increase the importance of training people on how to react in case of emergency, said Sunier.
"We got a request a while back asking if we knew of anyone doing ice rescue training and when we did the research, we found no one was doing it," said Sunier. "We immediately put the class together and had an overwhelming response from people wanting to attend the class."
Jayne W. Stommel, a Frankfort, Ind. native and K9 specialist with Indiana Task Force One, says she will benefit from the training in several ways.
"If my dog is following a scent and decided that the quickest way is across a frozen body of water, I need to know how to get my dog out of there if the ice breaks," said Stommel. "I also plan on teaching the ice awareness part of this class to children when I do visits to elementary schools."
While recognizing the importance of preparing people on how to react show an ice-related incident occur, Sunier points out that raising awareness is really the key to saving people's lives.
"Preparedness is important but prevention is the key," Sunier said.
Sunier said that he plans to expand the training with a website in the near future, so people can learn basic principles of how to be safe around ice online from their computers.
"Be prepared. Be aware. Be ready to react," Sunier added.
(Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten writes for Camp Atterbury public affairs.)