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2 Ice Water Rescue Techniques For First Responders

The Pick 45 and the Tethered Swim are ice water rescue techniques for first responders. These methods are quick to deploy and require minimal resources.

Both the Pick 45 and Tethered Swim ice rescues are effective for quickly establishing contact with a subject and transporting them away from open water and weak ice—to stabilize the situation.

The ice rescue variations we’re showing here are good for:

–       Flatwater ice rescues
–       Where the responders have appropriate training and equipment
–       And entering the water is within the team’s acceptable level of risk

Both methods begin with the same setup and approach, and can be performed by teams of two or four rescuers. In a two person setup, there is one tethered rescuer and one rescuer belaying. The tethered rescuer will have a rescue ring attached 3m /10′ behind them on their line. For the four-rescuer system, two additional rescuers establish a second line, in parallel with the first.

As rescuers approach, if they are able to access the subject from the ice surface, they attempt the Pick 45. This method allows the rescuer to stay on the ice surface and use both the rescue ring and ice picks to pull the subject out of the water and onto the ice.

If the rescuers need to enter the water, they do the Tethered Swim. This rescue has one person enter the water to contact a subject that was not able to be reached from the ice surface. Once again we are using a rescue collar but this time the rescuer on belay will pull the subject out of the water while the other rescuer helps from the water.

If rescuers are required to cross a larger distance of open water in order to get contact with the subject, a Rapid Deployment Craft (RDC) or another type of craft or rescue board can be useful.


Read: 6 Fundamentals of Ice Assessment

Read: How to self-rescue if you fall through ice

Training: Ice Rescue & Safety Training

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