Firefighters braved the icy waters of the North Saskatchewan River, as they learned how to properly do ice rescues.
Scott Brochu, with Edmonton Fire Rescue, said that the reason they do the training is because rescuing someone on a frozen river presents different challenges than rescuing someone from a burning building.
“We can mitigate many things in fires. We can read smoke, look at different things, and sound floors before going into a fire. But the river, the ice you can’t predict from above. You can’t see the thickness of it or tell where the dangers are. And this time of year when it starts weakening it gets extremely dangerous.”
Brochu added that since we’ve had a relatively warm winter, the ice is pretty thin right now.
“The problem with this year is it’s warm this year,” Brochu explained. “It’s the beginning of March and we have temperature and ice conditions that we normally see in April. So we have a lot of people that are going on the river that are used to doing it, for the last decade they’ve been fine. But now they’re not.”
He also said it’s just a better idea to stay off of frozen water, because the risk outweighs any benefits.
Brochu said running water, like in rivers, is extremely dangerous when it’s frozen over.
“If you fall through the ice here, as compared to static water that current can grab onto you and pull you under the ice shelf,” Brochu said. “And once you’re under the ice shelf, there’s no getting you back.”
Brochu adds that Edmonton is one of the only cities that needs to be prepared for a river rescue.