First responders hold cold water rescue drills ahead of bitter blast

First responders hold cold water rescue drills ahead of bitter blast

BOSTON — With arctic temperatures heading our way, the Boston Fire Department is brushing up on the ice and cold water rescues. The department's specialized units spent hours doing drills to prepare for the real thing and brought Boston 25 News reporter Jessica Reyes along.

When seconds count, training kicks in for first responders.

"We work on these throughout the year because we want to make sure the kinks and mistakes are happening here and not the real world," said Boston Fire Lt. Michael Dunnigan.

Content Continues Below

For members of the Boston Fire Dept., this ice rescue training drill on the Charles River is as close to the real world as it gets. The victims, in this case, were four fellow firefighters.

"They arrived on scene, met a witness, the witness gave them as much info as they could," said Boston Fire Captain Paul Lyons. "They had two victims on one end of the river and they also had some at a remote location so they had to split up and get them out of the water."

After the drill, the instructors did a debrief with the crews to go over what went well and what could be improved upon.

"Whether it's approaching the victim, learning to walk on the ice properly, we want to see where we need to work on," said Dunnigan.

Training like this is top of mind with bone-chilling cold heading this way this week, but despite temperatures that are expected to be well below freezing, Chief Paul Burke says it will be unsafe to walk out onto most bodies of water.

"It's been warmer then colder, so the ice is thawing and refreezing again. So it's not a solid block of ice anywhere. It's hot and cold with how the climates been," said Chief Paul Burke.

Even if you do see someone else fall in, he says there's only one thing you can and should do.

"Dial 911 on your cellphone. You really shouldn't attempt to go on the ice because you'll become a victim, too," said Burke.