When the Weather Outside is Frightful the FCTRT Completes Cold Water and Ice Rescue Training

The Fayette County Technical Rescue Team recently took advantage of the unusual cold and snowy weather in the mid-south area by completing several Operational Readiness Exercises in Cold Water and Ice Rescue.  Many members took turns pulling each other out of the frigid water and ice, training for cold water and ice rescues they hope will never be necessary.  When these extreme cold weather events happen, many ponds freeze over and children are out of school, and it is ripe for potential problems with people and animals getting near the cold water and/or walking on too-thin ice.

FCTRT members donning specially designed cold water immersion suits worked in squads to rescue other members who volunteered to pretend to fall into the cold water and/or fall through the ice.  The Team routinely practices for these types of events and keep cold water immersion suits and the gear needed to perform a cold water and ice rescue on their equipment, just in case.

When the FCTRT is called by a local emergency response agency for assistance, a specially trained member will simply put on the cold water immersion suit and all other emergency gear is already set up and ready to go for these types of rescues.  “Our cold water and ice rescue equipment doesn’t get used for any other purpose other than to assist people and animals that may need rescue from cold water and ice situations,” said Sgt. Steven Montgomery.  “These situations, although rare in our area, do happen and it is critically important to have individuals trained for these types of events and to also have the specialty equipment immediately available to assist a person or animal in distress – when seconds really do count.  Our Team believes in taking a proactive approach to these types of incidents, rather than reacting and we have even had one of our members travel to the frozen tundra of New Hampshire to take an outside certified technician course from a premiere and nationally recognized training agency that trains members of New England fire departments such as the NYFD in some of the harshest conditions imaginable,” said Montgomery.

When a victim (person or animal) falls into cold water or falls through ice, they experience panic and shock.  As the cold water numbs their limbs, their body begins to slow down.  Within minutes, severe pain will cloud the victim’s thinking and eventually hypothermia would set in, which can cause unconsciousness and death. 

“Our Operational Readiness Exercises in cold water and ice rescue include both classroom and practical hands-on training in identifying cold water and ice conditions; properly using the cold water and ice rescue equipment; and practicing shore, boat, and direct contact rescue techniques designed to help the rescuer realize the dangers and difficulties associated with these types of rescues, as well as the necessity of focusing on the need for preplanning and training,” said Sgt. Matt Wilson.  “With the unusually cold and snowy weather that we have recently had in our area, it was the perfect time to practice our skills and techniques,” said Wilson.

The Fayette County Technical Rescue Team is a private, non-profit and sanctioned rescue squad now comprised of 38 volunteers from various emergency response agencies and the private sector that is solely funded through sponsors, donations, and private grants.  The Team does not accept or receive any federal, state, county, or municipal government funding so that there is no cost for the all volunteer Team.  The FCTRT is an Active Unit Member of the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads and has formed alliances with the Rossville Fire Department, Search Dogs South, and the Kelsey Canine Medical Center and holds active Team memberships with the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), the International Association for Dive Rescue Specialists (IADRS), the International Rescue and Emergency Care Association (IRECA), the National Association of Volunteer Search and Rescue Teams (NAVSAR), and the Mid-South Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (Mid-South VOAD).  The Team is fully insured; available to respond in most of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas; and provides specialized emergency response to fire departments, police departments, and agencies requesting additional assistance or personnel without charge. 

If you are interested in joining, assisting, donating, or just looking for more information about the Team, please visit their website at www.technicalrescueteam.com, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Fayette-County-Technical-Rescue-Team/142956262393699, or call them anytime at (901) 496-6800.