Coast Guard, Partners Prepare for Ice Season

Coast Guard members complete training during the last day of the final 2017 Ice Rescue Training Course at the National Ice Rescue School in Essexville, Mich., Feb. 16, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Coast Guard members complete training during the last day of the final 2017 Ice Rescue Training Course at the National Ice Rescue School in Essexville, Mich., Feb. 16, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Members of the Lake City Fire Company gave a short demonstration Sunday on the capabilities of an underwater search camera pole system it obtained earlier this year through the Northwestern Pennsylvania Emergency Response Group.

U.S. Coast Guard members talked of the use and deployment of their Rapid Deployment Craft, which they displayed, along with an assortment of other rescue equipment, in a garage of Coast Guard Station Erie on Presque Isle.

The presentation of rescue equipment was part of an information-sharing event that Coast Guard Station Erie hosted for its partner agencies in Erie County on Sunday afternoon, as they put the warm-weather boating season to bed and await the approaching the ice season.

Coast Guard Station Erie Chief Dan Heitzer called the gathering a "pre-ice meeting, post (search and rescue season) meeting," to see what his crew and the state agencies and local fire departments they work with might need to address before Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay freeze and the ice rescue calls start.

"It was a busy summer, so let's hope we're not in for an encore," Heitzer said.

Coast Guard officials gave presentations on the agency's ice rescue procedures and equipment, then gathered information on the procedures and equipment of their partner agencies.

"It's very important because different departments have different equipment," said Dominic Quadri, a captain with the West Lake Fire Department in Millcreek Township. "Just to see what everybody has, to get on the same page with how we train, what our procedures are when we go to make a rescue."

Heitzer, who assumed command of Coast Guard Station Erie in May, is getting used to the capabilities of the agencies that assist the Coast Guard on rescues, said Marvin Waxham Jr., assistant chief of the Lake City Fire Company. It's always good for everyone to be familiar with each other, and with new techniques that some are being trained on.

"Anything you're doing, joint training, familiarity, just really helps in the efforts we all do. We're all going to end up at the same scene," Waxham said.

Sunday afternoon's event wrapped up with an ice rescue demonstration by Coast Guard members.

"Interagency cooperation between the different departments is crucial for executing the upcoming season," Heitzer said. "It's good to get thinking about this stuff early, to share each other's equipment, training, and ideas so we can all get on the same page or at least be aware of what each of us has."

--This article is written by Tim Hahn from Erie Times-News, Pa. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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