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Middletown firefighters conduct cold water rescue training on snow day

Every year, the Middletown firefighters train for cold water rescue training.

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — In a town filled with several ponds and a main stretch of the Connecticut River, when the weather gets cold the dangers rise.

The recent run of winter weather has created ice atop bodies of water all around Middletown and the local firefighters are using it to their advantage.

Every year, the Middletown firefighters train for cold water rescue training.

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"There is a lot of training that goes into this, we have special equipment we use to make sure they do this safely and it’s an efficient operation,” said Assistant Chief James Ehman, who oversees the ice training evolutions with 13 Middletown firefighters."

On Pameacha Pond, the firefighters donned cold water suits and made their way out on the ice – simulating an actual rescue.

“We have members on the shore that are also hauling the ropes to pull (the victims) to safety and we have special EMS equipment as soon they get out of the water,” Ehman said.

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Assistant Chief Steve Salafia said in the case of a real emergency on the ice, safety is the No. 1 priority “for the victim for us, and hopefully we get everyone out.”

The Middletown Fire Department works to train each of its 65 members in ice rescue operations on an annual basis.

“We want to make sure we are prepared,” added Salafia, a 26-year veteran of the fire department. “When we get out on the ice, we are ready to go.”

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The overall message to the public is that going out on the ice is never 100% safe.

Standing on the banks of Pameacha Pond, Ehman stressed: “There is no absolute safety when you go out on (frozen) bodies of water, if you want to ice skate go to a skating rink but out here you take your chances.”

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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