Rapid City fire crews train for icy rescues - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City fire crews train for icy rescues


The Rapid City Fire Department's Search and Rescue teams trained for ice and extreme cold rescues Wednesday at Canyon Lake Park.

Crew members took turns on the ice and in the water.

In 2013, the Rapid City Fire Department responded to two separate incidents in ice or extreme cold water conditions. Additionally in 2013, the Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue Team responded to over 20 calls for service with a large majority of incidents in a cold water environment.

Fire Department Public Information officer Calen Maningas said training in cold and icy conditions is the key to saving lives when it matters.

"It doesn't happen everyday, so it's low frequency, so that's why it's extremely important that we come out and train. We train as a team so we can keep those skills fresh, so we have that critical expertise and equipment to basically mitigate that hazard or to provide rescue in the event that someone does fall through the ice," Maningas said.

Please remember the following safety tips if you are enjoying the Black Hills during this cold season. Whether your hunting, fishing, or ice skating be cautious of water ways.


Cold water can kill in at least four ways...


  • Cold water shock causes the victim to involuntarily inhale water and drown. It may also cause a sudden increase in blood pressure and cardiac arrest within three minutes of entering the water.
  • Swim failure can happen from three to 30 minutes of immersion. Cold stiffens muscles making swimming to stay afloat, zipping a life vest or re- boarding a boat nearly impossible.
  • Immersion hypothermia after 30 minutes, body core temperature begins to fall, which can lead to unconscious- ness and eventually death.
  • Post immersion collapse happens during or after rescue. As the body begins to re-warm, cold blood that was trapped in the extremities can rush to the heart, possibly leading to heart failure. Also, water that may have been inhaled can damage the heart and lungs

If traveling onto ice the following guidelines apply only to clear new ice. White or snowy ice is only half as strong as new clear ice.

-          2in. or less – STAY OFF ICE

-          4in. Ice fishing or other on foot activities

-          5in. snowmobile or ATV

-          8-12in. small vehicle

-          12-15in. medium vehicle.

If you are unsure of the ice thickness STAY OFF THE ICE.


If you follow in

  1. Don't remove your winter clothing. Heavy clothes won't drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.
  2. Turn toward the direction you came. That's probably the strongest ice.
  3. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface. This is where a pair of nails, sharpened screwdrivers or ice picks comes in handy in providing the extra traction you need to pull yourself up onto the ice.
  4. Kick your feet and dig in your ice picks to work your way back onto the solid ice. If your clothes have trapped a lot of water, you may have to lift yourself partially out of the water on your elbows to let the water drain before starting forward.
  5. Lie flat on the ice once you are out and roll away from the hole to keep your weight spread out. This may help prevent you from breaking through again.
  6. Get to a warm, dry, sheltered area and re-warm yourself immediately. In moderate to severe cases of cold water hypothermia, you must seek medical attention. Cold blood trapped in your extremities can come rushing back to your heart after you begin to re-warm. The shock of the chilled blood may cause ventricular fibrillation leading to a heart attack and death! 
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518 St. Joseph St.
Rapid City, SD 57701

Telephone: 605.342.2000
Fax: 605.342.7305

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