Firefighters practice ice rescue

8 December 2010, 06:00

A team of firefighters from Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service have been practicing how to rescue people and animals from frozen rivers and lakes.

Along with staff from the RSPCA and South Central Ambulance, the crews took part in a simulated rescue - saving a "body" from Tongwell Lake in Milton Keynes.

The operation was to make sure firefighters know what to do when they're called to similar real-life situations, but also to raise awareness about the dangers of walking on frozen water.

Firefighters say they're most likely to get calls to rescue dog owners - who have tried to reach their pets after they've run on to the ice - or groups of young people who are cycling or running across the lakes for fun.

Last year five dogs died in Milton Keynes after falling in to frozen water, and two adults also needed help getting out of lakes and rivers. Earlier this week firefighters were called to a canal in Linslade in Bedfordshire, where a sheep had fallen in, and since the weather turned icy this year, crews have already received reports of two dogs who had fallen in to water in Stony Stratford.

Mark Robinson's the Watch Manager at Newport Pagnell Fire Station:

"This is one of our worst environments. It is our job to go in to environments like this, but we don't want to.  It's the last place we want to go. Yes, we've got the equipment but no, we don't want to be going out there."

"We've got to be practising all the time with this. Initially we were going to be going down the ice skating rink, but the weather's turned. We were actually hoping to get a demonstration done prior to the weather turning, but the way the weather's gone...we're practising on the real thing now. Throughout winter - especially if it's going to be a harsh winter - we'll be coming down to the lake and we'll be setting up different scenarios to practise on."

You're being told to stay off frozen water and, if you see an animal in trouble, call 999 instead of trying to rescue them yourself.