Ice emergencies present perilous risks to rescuers and victims

Search and Rescue volunteers from Sanpete, Sevier and Wasatch counties conduct a mock ice rescue at the reservoir at Palisade State Park during a three-day training last Friday through Sunday, Jan. 18-20.

Ice emergencies present perilous risks to rescuers and victims

Search and Rescue joins two other counties in training for winter rescues


By Robert Stevens




STERLING—Sanpete County Search and Rescue is better equipped to handle ice rescues after hosting a three-day training session over the weekend.

The class took place from Friday through Sunday and included rescue personnel from Sevier, Wasatch and Sanpete counties. It started with classroom training and culminated on Sunday when the students conducted mock rescues on the frozen ice of Palisade Reservoir.

Bo Tibbets of Public Safety Dive Services, a subsidiary of Technical Rescue International, a rescue training firm out of Grand Junction, Colorado, was the trainer. His wife, Becky assisted.

Thirteen search-and-rescue personnel from the three counties participated, and Tibbets said they all completed the 20 hours of training successfully.

“The search and rescue volunteers participated because they have a heart for helping people,” Tibbetts said. “They did fantastic. Everyone completed the class successfully and the counties are now better equipped to handle a victim who has fallen through the ice.”

The training consisted of learning how to rescue both humans and animals. According to Tibbetts, an animal rescue actually poses the most danger to the rescuer, but an animal, such as a dog, can survive longer in the ice water than a human can.

Katy Sedlak was one of the Sanpete Search and Rescue volunteers who took the class.

“The idea of leaving home to jump into frozen water is quite daunting,” she says. “During the classroom portion of this course, you can feel the anxiety buzzing through the room. Once we get out on the ice, that disappears and the safety of ourselves and the victim becomes the most important thing. Bo and Becky do a wonderful job of preparing responders for the wide variety of issues we may face.”

Tibbetts has a background in the fire service, but performed his first ice rescue more than 15 years ago and has helped develop national standards for the process.

“One of the biggest challenges in ice rescue is making sure we have the proper equipment to protect ourselves and the rescuers, as well as protect the victim so we don’t make their situation worse,” Tibbetts says.

“Sanpete County Search and Rescue is always striving to be more effective at what we do,” Sedlak says. “Thanks to the support of our community we were able to add two new members to our ice rescue team this weekend. Congrats to Jon Collard and Stephen Herbert.”