Missoula firefighters start annual training for ice rescues - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Missoula firefighters start annual training for ice rescues

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MISSOULA - It’s not the time of the year when you even think about going swimming. But for Missoula firefighters, January is exactly when they train for the unfortunate instance of you ending up in the river.

Missoula Fire Department teams gathered on the frigid banks of the Clark Fork River Thursday to start their annual training for ice rescues. 

Over the next few weeks, dozens of firefighters will refresh their skills for saving someone who falls into the icy water. That includes using a variety of tools to safely reach someone across the water, or the ice along the banks, before they drift out of sight, and then getting them back to shore. That might involve using a pontoon raft as a rescue platform, tossing a line to the swimming, or even using a “river board” so a rescue swimmer can reach a victim quickly. 

And it’s a tough call too, since conditions can change by the hour. 

Firefighters tell us the best thing is to stay off the ice, and a safe distance away from the Clark Fork, keeping your pets out of the water, and not trying to rescue them if they fall in.

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