The Minot Fire Department holds annual ice rescue training


MINOT, ND (KXNET) – With the colder weather, the tops of lakes, rivers and many ponds are starting to freeze.

It’s ideal for those who enjoy ice fishing, hockey and more.

“As you can see the ice is very unstable at the moment with the fluctuating temperatures, and the river is still flowing, which creates different currents. So even if you are quite far downstream, it can still cause problems thick ice,” said Jason Babinchak, battalion chief with the Minot Fire Department.

Babinchak says the department does these types of rescues about two or three times a year and they usually happen when the ice starts to form and again when it starts to melt in the spring.

He says there are a number of reasons why a person, or even a pet, should be saved from the ice.

“The river is bubbling and everything and the kids love the water. And sometimes they like to go out and play. They love being able to get on the ice and play hockey or just slide on the ice. Ice fisherman, other things like that. Sometimes people go down the embankment, trying to cross the river instead of the next bridge and sometimes they fall,” Babinchak said.

If you find yourself with someone who has fallen through the ice, it is best to act quickly.

Babinchak has a phrase that will help you.

“We reach, toss, row and go. So reach out with something, a stick or whatever, throw them a rope and call 911 obviously right away. And then, if we have to, we will go to them or row, we have a specialized boat for that too. Generally stay off the ice and call for help as soon as possible,” Babinchak said.

He says it’s not a good time to do any of these activities on the ice because the ice isn’t thick enough.

And it has some additional tips to help you stay safe.

“Go with an experienced person who is used to ice cream. Try to stay off the ice for a few more weeks until it solidifies and temperatures stabilize below freezing more than they have been or below freezing. And just stay on the banks, stay away from the river and just watch for now,” Babinchak said.

The suits firefighters wear for ice rescues work by keeping the body heat of the person inside, and this makes them more buoyant, so they stay afloat.

The costume also features a belt, which allows them to be hung on a rope and removed.


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