Nov. 30, 2011 – I’m happy to report that ice-water rescue training went very well Monday night and I didn’t get a soaker. My plan (as stated in yesterday’s blog) was to volunteer to be one of the first ones in so as to minimize the chances of being one of the unfortunate ones who gets stuck with a cold, wet suit. Plan didn’t quite work out the way I’d envisioned, however, the end result was exactly what I was going for . . .
By Jennifer Grigg
Nov. 30, 2011 – I’m happy to report that ice-water rescue training went
very well Monday night and I didn’t get a soaker. My plan (as stated in
yesterday’s blog) was to volunteer to be one of the first ones in so as
to minimize the chances of being one of the unfortunate ones who gets
stuck with a cold, wet suit. Plan didn’t quite work out the way I’d
envisioned, however, the end result was exactly what I was going for . . .
I was the last of the four of us that were going in the water to get into an immersion suit, and I ended up in a brand new one that was different from the older type that the other three guys had on (the old, red, neoprene suits – also known as Gumby suits). The suit I had on was almost a plastic-like material, and it was HUGE on me. I could’ve kept my boots and coat on underneath it. This type of suit requires a PFD be worn with it, so by the time all was said and done I looked like an orange Michelin man (woman), and unfortunately, I left my cell phone in the hall so I couldn’t get a picture of us in all our glory . . . Michelin Mabee and the three Red Gumbys!
Our trainer was the first one dressed and in the water as he was going to be our victim. I’m not quite sure at what point he felt the water slowly seeping into his suit, but after being rescued and pulled back to shore twice, he was definitely feeling it. When he came to shore and was helped out of his suit (as we all know, those Gumby suits are not easy to get out of, especially when you’re wet!), his t-shirt was soaked. I couldn’t believe it! I remember the odd leak happening back in the day, but man, was I ever glad that I wasn’t the first one dressed and ready to go in!! 😉
Since there were still three of us suited up, one of the other firefighters volunteered to be the victim so that I could go and rescue him. My partner and I had our safety lines attached, two other firefighters were acting as line tenders, the safety officer was on the dock overseeing the scenario, victim was in the water ready to go and I had the . . . uh, yellow . . . what was that called . . . ? The floaty safety thingy that I’m about to use to save my victim . . . I’m good to go. I know what you’re all thinking, poor sucker that volunteered to be my victim!
Now you have to remember, I trained under Dive Rescue in the past and there are a few differences between that and the new (to me) OFM training; one being the yellow floating rescue thingy. In the past, we used to use a rope with a carabiner. You’d have to get behind your victim and reach around them with both arms and manage to find your rope in one hand with the carabiner in the other – which was not always easy for someone my size to do, especially with some of the more . . . well rounded? . . . members of the department. And since my feet always wanted to float out from underneath me, I’d have to hook my legs around my victim while trying to get the rope around them . . . anyway, I’m glad no one could actually see the position I was in while trying to rescue someone. I tell ya, the challenges we face as volunteers . . . or is it just me that these things happen to? Nah, can’t be. Can it??
But I digress, back to my rescue . . . I must also note here that while back in the hall reviewing the theory part of the training, it was demonstrated how to properly grab your victim’s hand and slip the yellow rescue thingy off your shoulder and onto the victim seamlessly. It seemed straightforward enough at the time. But do you think I could do it like that? Nope! I grabbed my victim with not only my wrong hand, but I think his too. Probably the exact opposite of how it’s supposed to be done. Thankfully, the firefighter playing my victim got me straightened out, and let me rescue him anyway.
I gave the signal to pull the victim in and thought I would go along with him and guide him to the shore, with him kind of resting on me, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Once they started to pull us, my feet came up and I pretty much bounced up out of the water like a cork. Did I mention that the new suits are even more buoyant than the old suits, and I had that PFD on to boot! All I could do was lay back and enjoy the ride as I floated on top of the water, and listen to the laughter coming from shore.
And I stayed completely dry!