Only on 8: La Crosse firefighters take you along for ice rescue training

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- The mighty Mississippi has earned its nickname; isize and strength. 

“People take it for granted. People die in this river every year. They just don’t always know the danger they are getting into.”, says La Crosse fire captain Nick Meinertz. The men and women of Meinertz’s department fully understand, and go into the water because they do. La Crosse firefighters train for water and ice rescues as often as they train for fires. They practice, again and again, how to safely and quickly pull victims from the water. “Seconds matter, especially when it comes to this. When the real call comes in we are able to helps somebody without hesitation.”, says La Crosse fire water rescue trainer Josh Deflorian.

Fire fighters also train for the worst case scenario; how to rescue themselves. “Its risk versus reward. We risk a lot to save a lot and risk little to save little.”, says Meinertz.

The La Crosse department responds, oaverage, to 10-15 ice rescues every season. “We haven’t been called out yet, thank God, but it is a matter of time.”, says Deflorian. Drivers keep training for what they know is coming.  Ready to take on river that is unforgiving, with a response just as mighty as the Mississippi. 

If you’re headed out on the ice, firefighters say never go alone, wear a flotation device, bring an ice pick to check the ice around you before every step you take.