February Busy Month for Animal Ice Rescues for Swansea (MA) Firefighters

Two fire apparatus

Linda Roy

The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.

(MCT)

Mar. 1—February proved to be a busy month for calls of animals falling through the ice.

Swansea firefighters responded to a 911 call on Feb. 26 for a dog that fell through the ice at the Swansea Country Club. Attempts by two Swansea police officers first on the scene were unsuccessful. When firefighters arrived, they were able to rescue the dog.

“We are very fortunate to have a well-trained and dedicated Fire Department in our town,” posted the Swansea Police Department on social media.

On Feb. 4, Middleborough firefighters ventured out onto Great Quittacas Pond to rescue a dog from the ice. The dog’s owner called the fire department the dog ran out onto the unsafe ice.

“It’s a very dangerous operation, whether it’s a person or animal. The firefighters did an outstanding job” Fire Chief Lance Benjamino posted on social media.

On Feb. 10, Easton firefighters responded to a call of a dog that had fallen through the ice at Shovelshop Pond.

Chief Kevin Partridge said in a press release the fire department received a call from a someone who was passing by the pond and they had seen dog on the ice and it had fallen through.

Firefighters responded with an ice rescue sled and survival suits. They were unable to find the dog, but observed a set of animal tracks leading toward a hole in the ice and another set of tracks leading out of the pond.

Sometimes these rescues of animals through the ice do not go as planned.

In 2018, as news crew choppers broadcast live, viewers watched with great hopes as crews in Cambridge attempted to rescue three deer that had fallen through the ice at the Cambridge Reservoir in Waltham.

Despite the effort of the Waltham fire department, the deer were unable to be rescued. A firefighter fell through the ice during the rescue, according to news reports, but he was OK.

While some people voice concerns that rescue of animals fallen through the ice is a waste of resources and puts firefighters at risk, Benjamino said “every incident is a learning moment, and we learn something from every incident. Animal rescues certainly hone our skills.”

While a lot of ice has melted on ponds and streams, a frigid blast of air is expected Tuesday that might cause some flash freezing.

MassWildlife cautions against going out onto frozen waters if the thickness of the ice is uncertain. Even then, it is recommended that people wearing a lifejacket and carry rope and an ice pick.

Here’s what you need to do if you, someone else or an animal falls through the ice:

If you fall in:

— Don’t panic: Call for help if there are people nearby.

— Don’t remove winter clothing: Air trapped in your clothes can provide warmth and help you float.

— Turn the direction you came from: Ice you previously walked on should be the safest.

— Place your hands and arms on an unbroken surface and kick your legs: If you have ice picks or a pair of nails, use them to pull yourself up onto the ice while kicking.

— Lie flat and roll away: Once your torso is on firm ice, roll toward thicker ice to distribute your weight.

— Find shelter and get warm: Change out of wet clothing and find warm, dry coverings. If you are in a remote area, get to or start a campfire. Otherwise, get to a car or house. Seek medical advice from your physician on medical attention.

If someone else falls in:

— Remember the phrase “Preach-Reach-Throw-Go.”

— Preach: Call 911 if you can. Shout to the victim to reassure them help is on the way.

— Reach: If you can safely reach them from shore, extend an object like a rope, jumper cables, tree branch, or ladder to them.

— Throw: Toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim.

— Go: If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform a rescue, call 911 or go to find help. Untrained rescuers can become victims themselves.

If a pet falls in:

— Do not attempt to rescue the pet, go find help. Well-meaning pet owners can easily become victims themselves when trying to assist their pets. Remember to always keep pets leashed while walking on or near ice.

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