When There’s an Emergency, Volunteers Respond – No Matter What the Season
Living on a 32 mile lake, the first responders from communities in the Lake George basin need to be prepared for emergencies regardless of the season. In summer, they’re among the first on the scene whenever there’s a swimming or a boating accident. And when the lake freezes over, they’re ready when the call comes through that an ice fisherman is in danger. To be ready, countless hours of training are required. Earlier this season, members of the Scuba teams from fire departments throughout Warren County conducted ice diving drills with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office in Kattskill Bay. Fred McKinney, the prominent photo journalist who also happens to be a long-time member of the North Queensbury Volunteer Fire Company, was there and shot these photos.
Until the ice goes out, the scuba teams remind everyone:
If you fall through,Try not to panic. Call out for help only if you see someone. The cold shock that makes you hyperventilate will subside within 1-3 minutes. Get your breathing under control and stay above water. You are more likely to die from drowning than hypothermia; Remove any extraneous objects that will weigh you down. (skis, snowmobile helmet, skates, etc.); Try to get out from the direction that you came in. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface of the ice; Begin kicking your feet to get your body horizontal. Then, pull yourself along the ice until you are out of the hole. Be slow and deliberate to conserve your strength and body heat; If the ice breaks, move forward and try again; once you are lying on the ice, do not stand up. Roll away from the hole, then crawl following your footsteps back toward shore. Don’t stand until the hole is well behind you. You want to distribute your weight evenly over a wide area to prevent going through again; If you can’t pull yourself out within 10 minutes from the time that you went in, cease all attempts. At this point, you need to extend the time period in which someone else could rescue you by conserving body heat. The body loses heat much faster in water than it does in air, so get as much of your body out of the water as possible. Keep your forearms flat and still on the ice. Hopefully, your clothing will freeze to the ice, possibly preventing you from going under, even if you become unconscious. It is possible to survive for up to two hours before succumbing to hypothermia. In other words, if you stay composed and keep above water, you have almost a two-hour window of opportunity to be rescued.