Their not called the bravest for nothing. When everyone else was taking it easy and enjoying their Sunday, Mahopac Falls Volunteer Firefighters were spending some time doing ice diving drills.

Even when there no imminent emergency, crews put their safety on the line to do ice recue drills on Lake Mahopac.

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It's an annual practice that puts the bitterly cold weather, and Lake Mahopac to good use just in case.

According to the Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page, even doing ice diving drills can be a very dangerous activity. Ice diving is physically, logistically, and mentally challenging, which means it can also be extremely dangerous. Proper skills and education for this diving environment are needed to have a successful and safe operation.

Specific crews all have their jobs, and it's imperative that each carry things out the right way to ensure the safety of the firefighters who participate in these drills.

MFVFD Facebook Image
MFVFD Facebook Image

First two holes are cut into the ice so that divers can gain access to the water. When the divers are prepped then they enter the freezing cold water and most of the divers don't just do it once, they participate in multiple dives.

While that's going on, other members of the crew practice the land based part of the operation which includes making sure divers have the right equipment, making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to signals, which become crucial for divers who are below the ice and can't get any visual signals. Plus there are crews who are solely responsible for setting up and making sure the pulley system is working properly so that life saving equipment and the gear divers may need can be transported on the ice without having any delays or problems. In this type of rescue, time is not always on the victims side.

Once the divers are in the water below the ice, they practice their selected search patters, as well as all backup procedures to ensure the safety of the crew and the primary divers.

Even though these are just drills, these dives can take their toll on members of the department who are involved. Divers have to take in an overhead environment with limited access to any exits which make these conditions very difficult and take a lot of practice.

For the safety of the divers, once their dives are completed, the MFVFD sends in their EMS crews so they can go right to work monitoring the divers vitals.

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