Although battling extreme temperatures is part of a firefighter’s job description, most don’t imagine those temperatures to pose a hypothermic threat.
Such was the case, however, for the Armstrong County 340 Task Force, which conducted ice rescue drills on Sunday in the frigid waters of Allegheny Township’s Northmoreland Park.
With freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall through most of the morning, the task force had to break a hole in the ice to begin its eight-hour training session. Each of the 40 or so team members spent about five minutes in the water demonstrating to Pennsylvania Region 13 Task Force instructors their ability to conduct ice water rescues.
Among the Region 13 Task Force’s primary directives is to establish communication systems and response methods that work among 13 counties.
The ice rescue training session represents one of four drills emergency responders must complete to be state-certified swift water emergency technicians. About half of the members must complete some combination of the other three drills to earn their Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission certification. But after Sunday, all task force members are properly trained and equipped to respond to ice water emergency situations, said Dan Felack, Task Force 340 deputy chief.