The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 10, 2013

Ottumwa firefighters fall through ice to learn rescue techniques

OTTUMWA — While people don’t fall through the ice very often in Ottumwa, firefighters make sure they’re trained on the latest techniques to get someone out safely.

Firefighter Chris Cale instructed a group of firefighters on how to rescue a person who has fallen through the ice Wednesday afternoon at Ottumwa Park.

Firefighter Rich Damm said the firefighters do ice rescue training every chance they get during the winter.

Fortunately, he said, the department doesn’t get many calls of people falling through the ice.

“Most of the time we see people ice fishing in pairs, though not right next to each other,” Damm said. “It’s dangerous to go by themselves.”

Thankfully in Ottumwa Park, a lot of traffic bypasses the pond on Wapello Street, and drivers could likely see if someone was in trouble, Damm said, but on rural or farm ponds, that’s not the case.

“It’s a big safety factor a lot of people take for granted,” he said. “They think, ‘It’ll never happen to me.’”

He said no matter how thick you think the ice is, you should always make sure it’s safe. Better yet, said Capt. Pat Short, just stay off the ice.

Ottumwa’s ponds are safer, Damm said, because there isn’t a current that could push a victim under and trap them beneath the ice. But those who like to ice fish on the Des Moines River should be more concerned, since the fast-moving currents can be more dangerous.

“We always send out a pair of rescuers, with two on standby on shore,  and the rest will help pull on the rope and are ready with blankets, cots and backboards,” Damm said.

If the firefighters have 10 people on the ground, two on standby and two rescuing the victim, “that’s all the hands we should need,” he said.

Hypothermia happens quickly, even in the warmer weather Ottumwa has enjoyed lately, he said.

“Even if the water temperature is 90 degrees, that’s still below your body’s temperature of 98.6 degrees,” he said.

And in the water on Wednesday, even though it was a warm winter day outside, a victim who is only in regular clothes would have succumbed to hypothermia quickly.

“Days like this are deceitful,” Short said.

The firefighters go through the ice rescue training fairly slowly, making sure they understand every step of the process.

“But on the actual scene everything seems to move 10 times faster,” Short said.

And during a house fire, the firefighters are able to communicate with radios.

“But here it’s just hand signals,” Damm said, since sometimes the victim is far from shore and yelling out instructions could be misconstrued.

A firefighter who is rescuing a victim will tap his own head to signal the firefighters on shore to begin pulling the rope.

While anyone who falls through the ice will likely panic, Short said it’s important to try to stay as calm as possible.

“The more energy you expel, the faster you’ll tire out,” he said.

And Damm said the victim should try as hard as possible to not go under the ice, because any current could push you under and down the river and you will be unable to find the hole where you fell through.

“Let someone know where you’re at, be with someone, use a cane or stick to pound on the ice and wear a life jacket,” he said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Van Buren says bye-bye to Waste Management KEOSAUQUA — Waste Management has been charging the Van Buren Community School District an average of nearly $1,600 a month to remove waste and recycled materials from the Douds and Keosauqua centers. Now faced with a bidding process, Waste Management

    July 23, 2014

  • Pesticide use is not all bad OTTUMWA — When you pick up a grocery ad, it seems like every other page has a produce item stamped USDA Organic, meaning that those items were spared from chemicals including Glyphosate, the most common pesticide in the world. As the Organic Food Mov

    July 23, 2014

  • 0724 OTT Kitchen Science color photo -L -T Kitchen science sparks curiosity OTTUMWA — A lucky group of children spent Wednesday morning experimenting with kitchen science and creating geysers of foam at the Knights of Columbus hall. The Kitchen Science performance was presented by Waterloo's Grout Museum and is part of the O

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Making something of themselves OTTUMWA — Community leaders this week heard how Ottumwa's Job Corps started from nothing yet became successful. But they also heard from students who said they were doing nothing until they found success through Job Corps. "After I dropped out of hig

    July 23, 2014

  • Prosecution: All evidence points to Techel as killer DAVENPORT — Just as all roads lead to Rome, so all evidence points to a Wapello County man accused of killing his wife, according to the prosecution. Assistant Attorney General Andrew Prosser, who is prosecuting the case for the third time, said defe

    July 23, 2014

  • New charges filed in abuse case OTTUMWA — A single charge against a man for sexual abuse has been replaced by a new trial information, and authorities are throwing the book at him. Grant Troxel was initially charged in early June with sexual abuse. But the new list of charges indic

    July 23, 2014

  • 0724 OTT car investigation color photo -L Tip led to Tuesday arrest OTTUMWA — There was more to the incident Tuesday in which officers surrounded a car near U.S. Bank in downtown Ottumwa than just a routine traffic stop. Police Chief Tom McAndrew said Jason Tobek, 36, is in custody and faces charges of interference w

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eldon man gets five year prison term KEOSAUQUA — An Eldon man was sentenced to five years in prison in Van Buren District Court for his role in an October 2012 altercation in Selma, which escalated into shots being fired into the home or Randall Ritz, 11883 Bridge St., Selma. Donald E.

    July 23, 2014

  • Emergency council meeting Friday OTTUMWA — Ottumwa’s City Council will meet for a second time this week, this time to discuss an emergency problem at the city’s Water Pollution Control Facility. The special meeting will be conducted at 1 p.m. Friday in the council chambers. Earlier

    July 23, 2014

  • 0723 OTT Riverfront color photo -L -M Ideas flow at Riverfront Renaissance workshop OTTUMWA — Ideas flowed as freely as the river itself Tuesday evening as more than 100 Ottumwans shared their vision of what the riverfront can be.The Riverfront Renaissance design charrette, sponsored by the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, drew p

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook