Emergency-response personnel with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services Fire Department supported a mutual-aid response Jan. 6 involving children who had fallen through the ice at Perch Lake in Sparta, Wis.

On Jan. 6, personnel with the Sparta fire and police departments as well as Sparta ambulance personnel were dispatched to Fisherman's Park at the lake for a report that two people fell through the ice, states a news release by the Sparta Police Department.

"Several officers from multiple agencies arrived within minutes of the initial call," the release states. "One child was observed safely on the shore, (and) another child was in the water clinging to the ice. Using ropes, the officers were able to rescue the 12-year-old from the water."

Officers on the scene also determined that a third child, a 9-year-old, had gone under the water and never resurfaced, the release states.

By this time, Fort McCoy personnel were on the scene. Fort McCoy responded with seven firefighters who were on duty - three from Station 1 and four from Station 2.

"Three additional firefighters responded from home to assist a dive team," said Fort McCoy Fire Chief Tim Jorgensen. "Firefighters initially put on their Stern suits and searched with pike poles. While they were searching, they also deployed a remotely operated vehicle into the water and used it to assist in the search. We then put a diver into the water who was able to locate the victim."

Once the third child was found and recovered, the Sparta release states he was transported to a hospital in Sparta and later to Rochester, Minn.
"The 9-year-old later died while at the hospital in Rochester," the release states. "Two officers were also treated for hypothermia-related injuries and later released."

An emergency response like this, especially one involving children, heightens the sense of urgency for all involved, Jorgensen said.
He said he's proud of the rapid efforts his fellow firefighters made help with the situation.

"As the chief of the Fort McCoy fire and emergency services, I am extremely proud of the response effort from our on-duty and off-duty firefighters," Jorgensen said. "I am humbled by the collaborative effort from Med-Link, Sparta Ambulance, Sparta Area Fire District, and all others who responded.

"As accidents happen at Fort McCoy or in the surrounding communities, it is comforting that we can rely on each other for help."

Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin. The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy.