ESCANABA - Delta County Search and Rescue is now one of three organizations equipped with a "rapid deployment craft" used to rescue ice anglers or winter outdoor enthusiasts who have fallen through the ice. They tried out the new equipment Sunday.
Knowing every second counts before hypothermia sets in (a drop in body temperature), Delta County Search and Rescue members conducted training exercises Sunday in the Escanaba Yacht Harbor.
Mike Sands, a member of Delta County Search and Rescue, said the new rapid deployment craft (RDC) was purchased with funds received from the Dagenais Foundation.
Sands said the $5,485 received from the Dagenais Foundation in early December was used to purchase the RDC and air tanks in January.
"There are only two other rapid deployment crafts in the Upper Peninsula," said Sands. "One is owned by Gladstone Public Safety and the other is owned by the Ensign Volunteer Fire Department."
Sands added the orange ice rescue suits (dry suits) worn by some members of the team were purchased from funds donated by the Hannahville Indian Community.
Delta County Search and Rescue team member John Frankenstein, left, works to pull “victim” Tom Sealander from the icy waters of the Escanaba Yacht Harbor Sunday. Members of Delta County Search and Rescue conducted training and certification training. Members also learned the proper use of equipment needed for ice water rescue. (Daily Press photo by Dionna Harris)
Sands said the RDC can also be deployed in the event of a fast moving (river or stream) rescue situation.
During Sunday's training exercises, Sands explained members of Delta County Search and Rescue undergo certification training in ice water rescue before even setting foot on the ice in an actual emergency.
"We undergo four hours of classroom training and afterward we engage in practical application of what we learned in the classroom on the ice," said Sands. Participating in Sunday's certification training exercises was certified instructor Tom O'Brien, a member of the Ensign Volunteer Fire Department. Prior to becoming an instructor, O'Brien attended three days of extensive training at a training facility specializing in ice water rescue. Following the three days of classroom and practical application O'Brien became a certified instructor. The closest training facility for ice water rescue is White Bear Rescue Academy in Dunbar, Wis.