Ice rescue training in a town like Fort St. James just makes sense.
Not only is there a large lake, but there is the added danger of a large river, both near the population centre.
Fire Chief Mike Navratil knows this.
After only being in his position a short time, he was faced with an ice rescue.
Someone had gone out onto the ice in November, then became disoriented and confused while walking on Stuart Lake.
The Fort St. James Volunteer Fire Department responded with Rescue 11 (a rescue truck) and Engine 21.
Members geared up in “ice suits” made of neoprene and tethered a member to go out and retrieve the stranded person safely.
So recently, Raven Rescue from Smithers was brought in to provide a course in ice rescue to some fire fighters and a search and rescue member as well.
The two-day course involved a day of classroom training and instruction followed by a day outside, practicing rescues in and along Stuart River.
Fire fighters Carmen Bennison, Sheldon Dame, Brian Rivard, Pete Panesar, James Waddell, Douglas Hearn, John Bennison, Mike Navratil, and Don Fraser and search and rescue member Shane Pearce all geared up to learn the ropes – literally.
Navratil said people travelling on the ice need to have situational awareness and make sure they have their bearings, especially at night when different lights can get confused.