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Oshkosh firefighters train for ice rescues as ice fishing season heats up

Local News

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) — On Millers Bay Tuesday afternoon, Oshkosh firefighters are prepared for a call they never want to get.

“This is one of those low volume calls, but it’s very high risk,” Public Information Officer John Holland told Local 5. “So for us, the more training we do, the better.”

When that call does come in, Holland says the department needs to be ready.

“It’s one of those things that we hope we never have to do, but we do it about five to 10 times a year,” he said.

And so they took to the ice in the station’s airboat.

“We are practicing with GPS,” Holland said, “because once you get out on that lake, everything just looks the same.”

The airboat is designed to go from ice to water to get rescuers exactly where they need to be when disaster strikes.

“It looks like it’s just sliding over the ice, and it’s a very, very bumpy ride but it is a great piece of rescue apparatus,” Holland said.

It’s a ride they’re ready to take at any time.

“Whenever there’s someone out there, there’s definitely a chance somebody could go through,” Holland explained. “The ice is never 100 percent safe.”

In Oshkosh, going out on the ice is a way of life.

“Here in Oshkosh we have the Otter Street Fisheree, we also have Battle on Bago, which are two huge ice fishing events,” he said, “so we want to make sure we get in our training before they get here.”

The fire department will be ready, but there are things Holland recommends everyone do to help stay safe on the ice.

“Make sure you have a charged cell phone with you, make sure you tell people where you’re going to be and how long, and cut back on the alcohol,” he said.

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