Friday, March 1, 2019

Firefighter takes the plunge for your safety

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham Firefighter and Paramedic, Tony Cataldi, was among 21 instructor candidates to become a certified Ice Rescue Instructor at the 20th annual International Ice Rescue Instructor Academy with classroom training held in South Portland and hands-on instruction at Wassamki Springs Campground in Scarborough.

Tony Cataldi
Cataldi, who has been a certified ice rescue technician for the past 10 years, spent four days from Thursday, February 21 to Sunday, February 24 with other instructor candidates representing fire departments from New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Canada. In those four days, which often lasted late into the evening, the students worked in the classroom practicing their teaching skills and spent time outdoors to perform practical skills on the ice. They used everything from specialized equipment to real life circumstances such as using inanimate objects as unconscious victims.

“We also participated in a mock emergency call that occurred at night,” explained Cataldi. “We received the call that a snowmobile with two people and a dog were missing on the lake.” Cataldi further explained how the firefighters worked together to search for the victims. “We walked out on the frozen water together in a 600-foot line with all of us attached to a rope. The scene was set up for us and we looked for footprints and snowmobile tracks. We found the victims on the back side of an island.” stated that the most important thing they learned is that no ice is safe ice. Other important factors realized and advocated for include:

1. You need at least 5” of new, clear, hard ice before venturing out.  And, just because the ice is 5” at one section, it doesn’t mean it is not compromised elsewhere.
2. Consider wearing a float coat or a lifejacket if going out onto the ice in deep water.
3. Carry a pealess plastic whistle to alert others in the event of an emergency.
4. Also carry ice picks which can be used in the event you fall through to pick your way out of the
water and back onto solid ice.
5. Keep dogs and pets off the ice and under control.  Many incidents are triggered by an animal going through the ice and the humans then put their own lives at risk in an effort to save them.
6. And, in the event of an emergency, CALL 911, and only attempt to rescue someone from the safety of the shore by reaching, extending, or throwing something to the victim.

When it comes to rescuing a victim, Cataldi stated that the rescuer’s safety must come first. “If we become a part of the problem, we must rescue ourselves; otherwise, we will be of no use to the victim.”

The training program Cataldi attended, Lifesaving Resources, meets and exceeds NFPA (National
The Instructor Training program included hands-on experiences
Fire Protection Association) 1670 and 1006 Standards for Technical Rescue. To date, the program has trained over 400 water or ice rescue instructors from throughout the U.S. and Canada and Cataldi is now one of them. He will already begin instructing other firefighters and paramedics this week.

Cataldi will not only teach in Maine but is also certified to teach in other areas of the country.

Of all the important things Cataldi learned, perhaps the way the instructor candidates worked together meant the most. “We worked very well together,” he stated, referring to the mock rescue scene as part of their program. “It proves that different municipalities can work together when needed.”

Cataldi also had this to say about becoming a certified Ice Rescue Instructor. “Windham takes pride in keeping up to date for the latest techniques for rescue in order to provide the best service for Windham and surrounding communities.”

Congratulations, Tony Cataldi. The communities thank you.

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