Firefighters trained on the ‘icy cold’ Red Lake River last week

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston firefighters, both full-time and volunteer/paid-on-call, reported for training on the Red Lake River last week and worked on different scenarios including water and ice rescue. Captain Bob Magsam explained to the Times what each group was doing including pointing out the volunteers in special suits who sat in the “icy cold hot tub” which turned out to be a hole cut out of the ice on the river to expose the chilly waters.

    Magsam said they try to work on ice and water rescue skills every spring as more people are getting outdoors and the warmer weather deteriorates the ice on the river. Depending on the situation, firefighters/first responders try to take the safest approach sometimes using ladders or poles to reach out for help, other times rafts, and, if necessary, rescuers go into the water to retrieve the individual that fell through.

    So what about the guys in the special suits in the “icy hot tub?” Donning their “Gumby suits”, they practiced getting in the river while opening up the suits to let out air bubbles and then worked on the steps they’d take should they have to rescue someone in danger.

    The firefighters also practiced how to move a victim up the steep river banks to safety.

    “Here, these guys are simulating a snowmobile crash and trying to retrieve the (weighted) dummy from the ice and bring them up the banks to safety,” Magsam pointed out to the group near him. “They use different equipment like ropes and (back) boards to get that person to safety or to the ambulance if one was here.”

    “People need to be careful especially now when the weather is warming up and the ice will be going down,” he added. “Just stay off the ice and watch for the (Minnesota) DNR’s announcements on conditions.”

Crookston firefighters participated in river training last week that included multiple scenarios on the ice, the bank, and in the river. Here, one group discusses rescues using rafts while another donned special suits and sat inside a hole cut in the ice on the river.
Firefighters simulate a snowmobile crash rescue and pulling a victim up the steep river banks