Miscellaneous > Ice Fishing FAQ

What do I do if someone falls through?

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I've read quite a bit on this topic, and most of it is common sense, however, it probably should be mentioned...
First and foremost...Protect yourself...
Second...get a third party to call for help...

Third...if you are going to attempt the rescue...
  1)  THROW a flotation device and/or rope to the victim.
  2)  Make a chain with others (hands to ankles) to get close to the victim, and EXTEND an object (stick, pieces of clothing tied together, etc.).
  3)  Or, if alone, lay flat and spread out, and EXTEND an object.

  "STOP, THINK SAFETY" has been my mantra and motto, since I started taking my daughter in the canoe, on the range, and now on the ice...and I pray I never forget to use Good Ole Common Sense.

  Does anyone have any experience that would bring this type of situation to life...?

I've been a member of a Rescue Squad for about 17 years and have been involved in ice rescue for about 15 of them years. The #1 thing to remember is safety. Under no situation should a rescuer go out on the ice without a flotation device.
There are far more would be rescuers drowned each year, then initial victims, in the United States. This is a fact!!

The first thing you want to do as a would be rescuer is to get boyancy to the victim. While doing this talk to the victim, calm them and reassure them that help is on the way. There are many things that can float, be inventive (ie. bucket seats with snap on lids, rear car seats, spare tires, ect.) Remember you want to get something to the victim that they can wrap there arms around. Fingers and your grip tend to lose strength and dwindle rapidly in cold/wet winter weather. This makes grabbing things almost next to inpossible after the fist few minutes. When sliding these items out to the victim always do so from the side. This eliminates the possibility of the ice breaking loose where the victim is holding on. Always talk to the victim, let them know what you are doing.

If a rope is avalible tie a loop in it and throw it to the victim. Always tie a loop in the rope before throwing it. The victim probably will not be able to grasp it or tie it on themselves.

After the victim is stable get REAL HELP!!!! Get the people with the equipment and know how to do the rescue. You donot want to pull the person on the ice or have themselves do this. The area is probably weakend which could make them fall through again. They would also be expending valuable energy that is needed to keep there body warm.

When your thinking about going out on the ice to rescue someone, remeber that even trained rescuers use the motto throw, row, then go. The last resort is to go out to the victim in person. This increases the danger to both the victim and rescuer.

I could go on for hours, I'll quit here. As a would be rescuer just remeber the basics. Never go on the ice without a floatation device, stabilize the victim, get help rapidly. Always talk to the victim, be calming, reassuring, and informative of the situation.


       That was excellant advise and very informative as well !  ;)

Both of those responses pretty much sum it up. ;D ;D ;D :'( :'( :'(

i agree with lone wolf. that info should be in the state fishing regulations book so everyone is aware of what to do in an emergency.


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