Firefighters pull two dogs from frozen Freedom Park pond in Edwards
February 22, 2017
EDWARDS — Local firefighters were called to Freedom Park twice Monday to rescue dogs that had fallen through the ice of a pond that was not as frozen as dog owners likely believed.
The first was late Monday morning, followed by early Monday afternoon. Dogs and owners are both doing fine, said Tracy LeClair, Community Risk Manager with the Eagle River Fire Protection District.
Because there’s an aerator churning the surface in the middle of Freedom Park pond, the surface never completely freezes.
The dog owners did the right thing by calling for help from local emergency services, instead of trying to rescue their pets themselves.
“If a pet owner attempts the rescue and falls through the ice, the end result could be tragic,” explained Tracy LeClair, Community Risk Manager for ERFPD. “At the very least, it may delay the rescue of the dog because our priority will be to rescue the owner first.”
When walking on or near ice, keep your pets on a leash, LeClair said.
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If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue yourself. Instead, call 911 immediately, LeClair said.
“Well-meaning pet owners can too easily become rescue victims themselves when trying to assist their pets. You should always assume that if a pet falls through the ice and cannot get out, so will you! Always call 911, and don’t become the next victim,” LeClair said.
The ERFPD reminded people that there is no such thing as safe ice, and you cannot judge the strength of ice by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow.
Ice can become unstable and ice thickness inconsistent, especially when it’s warm outside, as it was Monday. If you don’t know that the ice is 100 percent safe, stay off, LeClair said.
The water beneath ice is barely above freezing. If you fall through your body cannot maintain its core temperature. That will quickly affect your strength, mental capacity and the ability to get out.
Would-be rescuers frequently become victims when they fall through the ice as well, LeClair said.
If, as a last resort, you do have to approach the hole as a last resort, then you should still not run or walk, but crawl, to minimize the impact of the weight. Throw a long object toward the victim, such as a pole, rope or tree branch, or even a long scarf.
“If you fall in, swim to the edge of the ice and use your elbows to lift yourself partially out of the water. Go to the edge of the ice where you came from, since it held your weight up until that point. The ice around the other edges might be weak.
“Act slowly and deliberately to conserve heat and move back to where you entered the water. Expect a progressive decrease in your strength and ability to move. Stay calm and use a whistle to attract help,” LeClair said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.