Responders Practice Making Ice Rescues - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Responders Practice Making Ice Rescues

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Even though North Dakota warmed up into the 70s, firefighters say the conditions are just right to be out on the ice.

"I'd say this is pretty obvious that you can't be safe on the ice anymore, it's getting awful thin and awful weak." says Capt. Steve Sommers, Bismarck Rural Fire Department and Ice Rescue Team.

It's an incredibly dangerous situation for anyone else to be in, but luckily, these guys are pros.

Just a few signals the dive and rescue teams use during their action-packed training.

They practice saving people who have fallen through the ice at a time when the ice is rapidly melting for real.

"You can see how hard it is when you're trying to crawl and keep breaking through..." says Scott Nelson.

"It's breaking through with almost every step so, it's a little more difficult, but it's a lot more realistic doing this." says Sommers.

Keeping it realistic is key.

Here's what a victim would see in this situation.

They practice saving both unconscious and conscious victims, always using communication to stay afloat.

"The second rescuer will come in loop the rescuer and the victim and the guys on shore will pull them out." says Capt. Scott Sommers.

"It's strenuous, it's nice to know we're offering a specialized service to the community that hopefully nobody ever needs, but it's a lot of hard work." says Scott Nelson, Ice Rescue Team.

That's why they say whether it's an animal or a human on the ice, leave the rescues to the professionals.

"The more you do it, the more productive that you get in it, and the easier it becomes." says Sommers.

People continuously go out and try to help and they just keep falling in, breaking through what have you, if somebody's out on the ice just call 911 and we'll be there." says Sommers.

The dive suits they are wearing provide buoyancy, and thermal protection.

The last time the dive and rescue teams used their equipment was during the ice jam in '09 and the Missouri River flood of 2011.

The Dive and Rescue team consists of people from Bismarck Rural Fire and the Burleigh County Sheriff's Department.

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