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March 13, 2012 - Last night was our regular training night at our hall and we were doing ice-water rescue again. The problem with doing ice water at this time of the year is finding a safe, accessible location that still has ice.

March 13, 2012 
By Jennifer Grigg

March 13, 2012 – Last night was our regular training night at our hall
and we were doing ice-water rescue again. The problem with doing ice
water at this time of the year is finding a safe, accessible location
that still has ice.

With the mild winter and warm weather the past few days, it meant going to Station 1’s area to find a good location, which is about a 10-minute drive. A 10-minute drive that feels like a 20-minute drive when you’re in an immersion suit with a PFD over top of it, and you happen to be sitting in a jump seat the back of the rescue truck and can’t see where you’re going unless you lean over and look out the front.

And just for added fun, it didn’t occur to me to open the window behind me until we were almost at our destination. I commented to the firefighter riding in the back of the rescue with me that I felt like a pig in a blanket – all wrapped up and getting way too warm.

By the time someone opened the back doors to let us out, I felt like, well, let’s just say . . . not good. Fortunately, it passed quickly enough once I got out of the truck and into the fresh air.


Fast forward 15 minutes; we’ve had our quick pep talk about what we’re about to do, our equipment is all laid out, our “victim” is in the water and we’re ready to go. My partner and I are tethered, we have our rescue sling and the backboard, and we’re off to save “buddy”.

I slide into the water beside him, grab one of his arms and slide the rescue harness off my shoulder and over his arm and then his head, and then under his other arm. No problem; goes off without a hitch. I guide him over to the edge of the ice, my partner grabs a hold of him; I give the heads up sign, my partner reminds me to help guide his legs, and out he comes. Oddly enough, I find myself being dragged right along with him because my glove, which I can’t get out of because it’s attached to my suit, is stuck under the rescue harness. Nothing like being dragged along the ice half on top of the victim. Oh well, we saved him, didn’t we?

Next we decide to try using the backboard method to remove him from the water. Our victim goes back in the water and we approach him with the board and slide it into the water between the edge of the ice and him, and instruct him to grab the edge of the board as we position him on it. As we’re doing this, (icky alert) I can feel my nose running. I think to myself, “Why does it feel like my nose is running like it’s bleeding?” I happen to look down at the ice, while we’re in the middle of extricating buddy from the water, and I see . . . blood. “Oh *$%@!, My nose is bleeding.”

We finish pulling buddy all the way out while I’m trying not to bleed on him, (fortunately, he’s a paramedic in real life and not bothered by his “rescuer’s” bloody nose) and I turn to our team on shore and cross my arms (the universal sign for “need help”) and yell to them, “My nose is bleeding. I’m coming off the ice.”

I crawl to shore, leaving a trail of blood drops across the ice and then up the rocks to the staging area where our tarp and equipment are laid out. I ask if someone can grab me some Kleenex. Most of the guys are tied up with the scenario but, fortunately, our new recruit tries to help. As he’s looking for Kleenex in the truck, I’m stuck waiting and bleeding. I can’t grab my nose and pinch it because I’m still in the immersion suit, and I can’t get myself undone, because I’m trying to keep the blood from getting on the PFD and the suit (so it’s basically running down my chin . . . nice). Fortunately for me, one of the firefighters undoes my PFD and my immersion suit so that I can at least free an arm and pinch my nose. Not long after, our recruit finds a role of gauze after digging through the three medical bags and hands it to me. “No Kleenex?” I ask.

Couldn’t find scissors either, so there I stood with a role of bunched-up gauze pressed against my nose while holding the rest of the roll in the same hand. At this point, another firefighter came up to me and said, “Jen, I need that suit.” So while I’m holding the wad of gauze on my nose, I’m now also trying to get out of the immersion suit with one hand, and thinking, “Really?” However, the show must go on!

I then found myself standing on the tarp, staring at my sock feet, holding my nose, thinking, “Well, this kinda sucks!” when along came the recruit with my bunker gear. I stepped into my boots and hiked up my bunker pants. At least I could walk to the truck now and take a seat on the back bumper to watch the rest of the scenario until my nose stopped bleeding.

It finally did stop and I cleaned myself up You can just imagine how the first few minutes of a nose bleed play out without being able to pinch your nose . . . I looked like someone had punched me. I joked on the way back to the hall that the victim was combative, but truthfully, it was nothing that exciting, just a plain old nose bleed.

I can honestly say that I put my blood, sweat and well, OK, no tears, but still, definitely blood and sweat went into last night’s training. Bottom line, it was a good session and as I said to my captain, “Did you like how I threw in the little medical emergency for the recruit???” He just laughed.

Gotta look on the bright side!

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