With several weeks of winter weather ahead, members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department recently practiced rescuing people who fall through ice. “Our town has many bodies of water, so we need to be ready to perform ice rescue,” said Vaughn Dumas, Fire Chief. “We’ve used donations and funds raised to assure that our firefighters have the equipment to get skaters or others out of the water if the ice breaks.”
Following a classroom session, firefighters gathered at Wright’s Pond to practice donning ice-rescue suits and deploying an ice sled and a pontoon boat. Firefighters helped each other put on the bright, yellow cold-water rescue suits and pulled themselves across the ice to a “victim”. They used a flotation collar to pull the victim on to the sled or boat.
“The suits make you look like a yellow Michelin man, but they can keep a rescuer warm and dry so he or she can reach a victim,” said Lt. Dan Abrams, training coordinator. “It takes practice to use the suits properly. We also drill with our sled or our pontoon device to reach and remove a victim. Without training, the firefighter can also wind up in the water.”
Dumas, who often played the victim during the exercise, said people should call 9-1-1 if they see someone fall into the water. “If there’s a rope, throw it to the person. Keep your eye on the victim and, if possible, keep talking to them, but don’t go out on the ice,” he said. “You could wind up in the water too. Let us handle the rescue. That’s what we’re here for.”
The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection to residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and other emergency services.
Operating strictly with revenues from fundraisers and donations, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department is one of the remaining few all-volunteer incorporated fire departments in Connecticut. Active members are on-call to serve the community on a 24-hour/seven-day basis, responding from stations on Orange Center Road and Boston Post Road.
In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations and training. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (203) 891-1052, click on https://www.orangevfd.com/index.htm or find us on Facebook.