www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/ellicott-city/ph-ho-cf-ice-training-0214-20140213,0,792811.story

baltimoresun.com

Howard Co. recruits perform ice training at height of winter storm

By Luke Lavoie and Jen Rynda, llavoie@tribune.com

7:34 PM EST, February 13, 2014

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The newest trainees from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services participated in an ice rescue training drill Thursday during a snowstorm that dropped nearly a foot of snow on the region.

The approximately 40 trainees from the department learned how to rescue a person trapped by ice at a county training facility located at 2200 Scott Wheeler Drive in Marriottsville.

Early in the morning, trainees were lectured on terminology, how to use the equipment and tactical considerations. Shortly after noon, each trainee was put through three scenarios in which they had to rescue one of their instructors.

Captain Mike Sharpe said it is important to practice these types of rescues in snowy and icy conditions.

"We can't do ice rescue training in June," Sharpe said, jokingly. "These are the conditions we could be working in. A day like today, schools are out, kids are out sledding, they are out in the backyard and everything is covered in snow so they might not know there is a pond or ice here. It makes it more susceptible to those types of incidents."

Sharpe added that time is of the essence when responding to an ice rescue.

"With these type of rescues. ... We are already behind the eight ball when the 911 call goes out so we need to be able to hit the ground running," Sharpe said. "(The trainees) should be fully confident in their equipment and their ability. There should be no hesitation on their part."

Sharpe said that, despite the frigid and windy conditions, spirits were high on Thursday and that the trainees were having fun "playing in the snow."

And although Sharpe liked their enthusiasm and energy, he said, "It's not all fun and games. We make sure they understand that what we are doing is real."

According to the department, the training class began school on Jan. 27 and will spend the next six months becoming a firefighter and emergency rescue technician. The trainees are expected to graduate in August.