Emergency Crews Train for Icy Disaster

Several motorists were concerned when they saw fire crews and local police along the bank of the Kittanning boat launch area, fearing someone had drowned. East Franklin Fire Chief Mark Feeney explained it was a training exercise for the volunteers.

“We’re doing cold water rescue training that deals with the ice, people falling through the ice,” Feeney explained. “We have our cold water rescue gear on, (we’re) going out and cutting a hole (in the ice) with a chain saw. We are getting our guys, showing them how to wrap a line around people and assist them to get their weight back up on the ice and to safety.”

“We have East Franklin Fire Department, Applewold Fire Department, and Kittanning Hose Company #1 here. Number 1 always has guys around and we call them a lot for assistance with their squad for manpower for a lot of things.”

The number of rescue workers depends on the location of the emergency in the river.

Water rescue volunteers Chris Hibner (rear) and Bob Wolfe were in the icy waters of the Allegheny River last night practicing techniques that could save someone’s life in the event of an emergency. This was their first time to take the training.

“It all depends how far you are out and how many people you got involved. We have six people on the ice, so that means you have to have six people on the tether lines (along shore) for their safety, and then more people getting gear ready, getting chain saws for us, the stokes basket, and stuff like that. We will actually take the stokes basket out and get somebody out of the water in a stokes basket and bring them up and into shore on that.”

Feeney said they have gauged the thickness of the ice about 100 feet from shore.

“We have about eight inches of ice right now – and the most important thing, the ice is sitting on the water. So you have eight inches of ice sitting on the water which gives you extra strength.”

The thickness of ice depends on where in the river channel the current is flowing.

“We really haven’t went out past where we are. Where the current is flowing, the ice is thinner. But we explained to the guys, you don’t know where that current’s at. The ice could be sitting on the bottom on the Applewold side and all the flow (on the Kittanning side), or it can be sitting on the bottom here and have more flow on the Applewold side where the channel is. So you keep sounding it by hitting the ice. We check it by putting little holes in it and put our hand in it to check our thickness.”

Feeney said that he has seen people that survived in icy water for as long as two hours being revived.

“With this cold water, if they went under, it would be pretty quick. But in ice rescues like this, people have been in cold water drownings and recovered fine after two hours. As soon as you get them out of the water, you get them to the ambulance crew and the get them to a hospital trauma center. They will re-warm them slow and bring them back to life. Up to two hours, people have been saved.”

While the training is very tedious, Feeney said it is enjoyable.

“It’s nice to see all the guys out here. It is a fun training session because some of the training sessions are really boring.  As you see, we have a good turnout in the cold weather. A lot of people are interested in this. Out of all the people who are here, there are only five of us that have actually done this. We have two instructors out there with them at all times and we are going to run this whole crowd of people through there. So we will be here for awhile.”

Emergency workers train for a disaster last night on the Allegheny River. They are taught how to check for the thickness of the ice, according to East Franklin Fire Chief Mark Feeney.

13 comments on “Emergency Crews Train for Icy Disaster
  1. Marc says:

    Feeney’s probably leaving those cubes there for you to harvest Jenny. Sounds like you need the cash more to pay all of your court costs and freshly acquired fines.

  2. mark says:

    Like I`ve said before, I don`t ALWAYS agree with Jorn on everything. I understand the events that took place with the chainsaw and I agree Feeney`s approach to removing deck wasn`t thought out imo. BUT, if people joined/volunteered to the fire companies, THEN they have a right to complain about their actions or lack of. The head counts at the firehouses are dangerously low. I support them financially because my presence would hinder more than help BUT I wholeheartedly feel these men are an asset to this community. If something doesn`t suit you, get involved and help change it for the better. Now THIS will certainly give you kids something to chew on ALL weekend, eh? Over base.

  3. jorn jensen says:

    Perhaps Mark Feeney can use his carbide-tipped chainsaw to cut up the big iceberg down on the Murtha stage and sell it off as ice cubes for drinks. Lotta cubes there!

  4. Marc says:

    Jenny, maybe they could use the drone to help catch speeders. Speaking of, you’re a one man crime wave lately!
    Better get out that rolodex of “40 years of business contacts” and dust off the resume to pay all those fines! LOL

  5. mark says:

    Please please! Stop! I can`t take anymore! I just spit coffee all over the keyboard! Heardenuf/Rainbow/StillMad! LMAO! I WILL pay for entertainment like this!

  6. jorn jensen says:

    Not the same Mark. Let’s go buy a $19,000 drone! LOL

  7. mad-2010 says:

    Could very well be true, Rainbow. That would explain the slight Favoritism El Marko seemed to receive, well, well!!

  8. mark says:

    Like I`ve said before, you can`t buy entertainment like this… over base.

  9. Rainbow Rider says:

    Heardenough , could it be? What a revelation if you’re right!

  10. heardenoughalready says:

    Says the man who the story is about. We figured out who you are Mark. And some of us know why David keeps printing stories about you 😉

  11. mark says:

    Heardenuf/Local410, these guys might have to save your children/grandchildren/you someday. Thank you all for your volunteer/dangerous services you provide our county!

  12. heardenoughalready says:

    Looks like most of them could use a little “weight training”

  13. local410 says:

    I guess your the only one aloud to train there eh Mark Feeney?

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