Coast Guard Prepares For More Rescues On Icy Lake

CHICAGO (CBS) — Members of the U.S. Coast Guard station at Calumet Harbor have been training today for what they expect will be an increase in lake rescues in a season that’s already seen more people on the ice or in the water than usual.

Chief Warrant Officer Mark Stevens said more people have been venturing out on the lake ice this winter, because it has been so thick.

This time of the year, the ice starts breaking up and gets brittle, and what appears to be safe is not safe at all, according to Stevens. He said there’s no such thing as safe ice on Lake Michigan.

He said ice fisherman went onto the ice a couple weeks ago just off the Coast Guard Station. The next day, the wind shifted, and all the ice pushed to the east, leaving only water.

Coast Guard members wore survival gear for their training, including dry suits and shoes with screws coming out of the soles to give them traction on the ice.

One man put himself in the water and was clinging to a shelf of ice as others practiced using ropes and a hook-like device to pull him to safety.

Asked whether there’s a benefit to doing the training on a day as cold as today, Stevens said, “no, we’re freezing, too.” But they have to be prepared for anything, and that’s why the training is important.

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