Volunteer firefighters train for cold water rescue

GREENWICH - Volunteer firefighters from several Greenwich fire departments spent Sunday training for cold water emergencies.

Emergency officials say this winter?s constantly changing temperature can lead to danger in the state?s many waterways. To prepare for the event of an emergency, firefighters spent the day creating mock emergencies in the icy water of the Mianus River, and then practicing responses to the situations.

Firefighters say they are called to respond to cold water emergencies a few times each year, so it is important that their rescue skills are up to date. They say if a person falls into the icy water, he or she will have between two and five minutes to try and get out before his or her body begins to freeze up. Once a body begins to freeze, the person loses the ability to move or grab onto something, making the situation all the more dangerous.

Rescue officials say people lose heat in their bodies a lot faster in the water than in the air. In a water emergency, hypothermia and frostbite can set in within an hour.

Rescue officials plan to be ready in case someone falls into the ice, but they say they ?d prefer to not have to use their training. They advise people to play it safe and just stay off the ice.

The volunteer rescue team in Greenwich is primarily funded through donations. Each diver ?s equipment costs about $4,000.

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