Harrisburg Pennsylvania is bordered by the Susquehanna River, a wide water way used for pleasure in the summer. This same river covers with ice in the winter when we experience the cold temperatures we have had the last month. In Harrisburg there is an ordinance against being on the ice. Even with that in place almost everyday someone decides they want to be stupid and walk on it anyways. River ice does not lay flat like pond ice, it humps up and sometimes builds mounds eight to ten feet high, the water also continues to flow under the ice. With the channels and currents some parts do not freeze like others making this a very dangerous situation.
This January has been no exception, it seems like almost every day we are responding to the river for people on the ice, when we do this we tie up three to four rigs and 9 to 13 men because someone felt they needed to show their stupidity to the city and television audience (local news). Being Harrisburg firefighters we are the first to respond to the river when an incident occurs often waiting 30 minutes or more before a water rescue company makes it's way to the scene. Because of this it is important for us to train for these situations and be prepared to assist in a safe manner. In the last few years we have increased our equipment cache and training to have these skills and provide a high level of professional service the citizens and visitors of Harrisburg have come to rely on and deserve.
Last week we took the opportunity to go out to a lake in the City and practice these skills on a Platoon level. In the first photo Firefighters John Peskie and Deshawn Dennis work there way out to a down person on the sled, once arriving at the victim they secured the individual into the sled and had the shore based rescue crews haul them in the sum 200 plus feet they went out. In the last photograph Leon Cliatt is one of two firefighters dressed on shore as a back up crew during the evolution in case anything goes wrong. All three of the firefighter in the photos work on Wagon 3, B Platoon, the patient in the sled was Lt. Doug Bair, Squad 8, B Platoon.