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Sebago Fire Department Trains for Ice Rescue

February 6, 2003

Unlike the festive crowd that gathered Saturday afternoon for the Bridgton Winter Carnival to take a quick dip in Highland Lake, the fire and rescue personnel from Sebago were deadly serious Monday night. Sebago fire fighters donned cold-water rescue suits and practiced rescue techniques through a huge hole they had cut through the Sebago Lake ice off Nason's Beach.

Sebago Firefighter Danny Sciacca "rescues" firefighter
Teresa George from the icy waters of Sebago Lake

Firefighters Teresa George and Jason Schoolcraft led the group of rescuers through self-rescue techniques as well as one-on-one rescue of a victim in the water. The group then took turns first getting themselves out of the water safely and then practiced rescuing each other with different equipment. The rest of the firefighters manned safety lines and pulled the rescuers from the water once the "victims" had been secured. Mike Foye from Sebago Rescue monitored the rescuers and did a rehab check for hypothermia for everyone that was in the water.

Sebago firefighter Teresa George "rescues" firefighter
Jason Greene during an ice rescue drill
held Monday, February 3, 2003 in Sebago Lake

The glare of the work lights from the fire trucks made the scene out on the ice surreal Monday night. The water was cold! The ice at Nason's Beach was 14" thick, and in no danger of breaking - now. However every year fishermen or snowmobilers go through the ice with often fatal consequences. Already in the Lakes Region this winter lives have been lost to thin ice in Limington and Lovell. The most dangerous times are when the ice is just forming and again in the spring when it is breaking up. On the larger lakes like Sebago, however, the weak ice where pressure ridges form is also potentially dangerous. Sebago Fire Chief Alan Greene recalls that it wasn't too long ago that a truck went through the ice when it encountered such a weak spot in the ice.

Sebago firefighters all suited up and ready to go
swimming in the frigid waters of Sebago Lake!
(l-r Teresa George, Cynthia McGeehan, Jason Greene,
Danny Sciacca, Jason Schoolcraft)

Enjoy Maine's winter and the magic of our frozen ponds and lakes. Don't forget to use caution around open water. Be especially careful when the ice is forming in early winter or when ice is starting to break up in the spring.

Firefighter Danny Sciacca in his cold water rescue suit

[Note - This article was published in the Bridgton News on February 6, 2003]

Allen Crabtree

Last updated October 10, 2003

Copyright © 2003, Allen Crabtree