Cedar Rapids firefighters practice water rescues in ice - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids firefighters practice water rescues in ice

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

For Megan Wichmann, this is the first time she's had to jump in the water for the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.

"Knowing how cold it is outside and knowing the water is going to be even colder, I was thinking I would be a little bit more cold and wouldn't be able to be out here this long," said Wichmann.

But she learned the suits they wear keep firefighters warm.

Monday, firefighters took turns playing the victim. In a rescue, the first goal is to reach or throw something to the person in the water, then pull them out.

"Instruct your victim when they get the rope to wrap it around their arms three times," Captain Glen Heims told rescuers.

But if that doesn't work, they may need to send someone in the water to help out.

If you or I get stuck out on the water, we're not going to have on one of those suits. So that's why a big part of this training is teaching firefighters how to rescue people more efficiently, like the best way to throw the rope. That way they won't have to do it twice -- taking less time.

"Hypothermia sets in very quickly," said Heims. "We want to get them out as quickly as possible."

Now that all firefighters have had a refresher -- or tried this for the first time -- they're better prepared for a real rescue.

"It's just made me feel a lot more comfortable," said Wichmann.

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department does 12-16 water or ice rescues each year.

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