Milford Divers Train for Ice Rescue

In training they hope they'll never have to use, the Milford Fire Department is making sure its divers are prepared to go under the ice in case someone falls in.

“We all know as kids growing up that as soon as there was ice on any pond, or any body of water, we'd be out there playing hockey and skating. This being kind of new, having ice, isn't safe, so the probability of someone falling in increases substantially,” said Milford Fire Capt. Greg Carman.

As part of their monthly training, divers geared for a search-and-rescue exercise.

“We have a lot of new divers, and this is the first time they've experienced being on the ice, let alone under the ice, and we want to make sure they have the skills to perform safely,” said Carman.

The drill is done in real time and takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. Firefighters first have to cut a hole in the ice around the area where the victim fell, then head underwater themselves.

“When you're under the ice, you have no sense of direction, and when you're getting to the hole where the victim fell through, you're actually spidering; you're upside down and using ice picks until you get to the hole where the victim fell through,” explained firefighter Michael Dunn.

The diver is led by his counterpart above the ice, who watches the diver and gives direction.

“It's up to him, with tugs on the rope, codes that we have, how many tugs indicate what we have to do, whether I go right, left, stop, I'm OK, I found something,” said Dunn.

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