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Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue Department members practice getting in and out of icy waters off the Wolfeboro Town Docks on Saturday. LARISSA MULKERN PHOTO (LARISSA MULKERN/Union Leader correspondent)

Wolfeboro rescuers practice with a splash

WOLFEBORO - Firefighters not only run into burning buildings, but in the Lakes Region in winter, they take to icy waters to rescue those who have fallen into the drink.

On Saturday, members of the Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue Departments practiced their ice and cold-water rescue skills off the Wolfeboro Town Docks. Deputy Fire-Rescue Chief Tom Zotti said the outdoor training exercise give the crew a chance to refresh or hone their skills and put to use what is learned in the classroom.

Special equipment for winter rescue conditions include a portable, inflatable boat that is open at each end to enable the rescuer to pull a person into the boat easily from the water; bright orange exposure suits that float as well as keep rescuers warm; and a snowmobile equipped to transport a patient across icy or snowy terrain.

Crew members practiced rescues from the raft, flopped and floated in the cold water with their suits and crawled from open water to the ice, using ice picks that are attached to the sleeves of the exposure suits.

"I'm waiting for the piece to crack," said Zotti as he watched crew members slide up onto the ice, breaking massive pieces.

The suits keep people dry and warm, except for the face, which is exposed.

"It's really warm," said Firefighter Chris Morgan who took a dip dressed in the suit.


Saturday's temperatures were a bit milder than Friday's big chill, hovering in the 30s or so on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.

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