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Firefighters get their feet wet

With the subzero temperatures Farmington has experienced lately, it is hard to imagine anyone could fall through ice and into cold water.

Then again, with close to 150 ponds and miles of rivers and creeks running through the community, it is not entirely impossible, either.

Should that happen, the Farmington Fire and Rescue squad is now better prepared to handle such a situation, especially after an eight-hour cold water rescue training session Jan. 10.

About two dozen firefighters gathered at Fire Station No. 2 last Saturday for the training session, which began with two hours of classroom instruction. Then, they headed east down 195th Street, to a pond off of Dovers Path, where they did another six hours of hands-on training.

The rescue personnel completed several drills -- victim self-rescue, where they learned how to advise a victim to get him or herself out of the water; rope tying and anchoring; how to throw a floatation device to a victim from the shoreline; and how to pull a victim from cold water. Firefighters learned which method was appropriate for which situation.

Rescue squad chief Todd Kindseth says the skills learned last weekend are not employed often but were valuable, all the same.

"Each year, more and more people seem to go out on the ice. We've been fortunate enough in my whole 19 years here, where we haven't had (too many) situations where people go in," he said. "There's a lot of ponds, and the potential is there for anything to happen."

Kindseth could only think of a couple incidents in recent years where water rescue techniques were employed. One, a man and his dog had fallen through the ice but were able to get to shore safely; the other, a man intentionally drove his car into a deep pond and died.