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Going through the ice so others won't

Timber Cross Media filmmaker Jeremy Grant works with Camden Fire and Rescue to demonstrate an ice rescue

DAMARISCOTTA, Maine — His motivation is pretty simple. Filmmaker Jeremy Grant loves anything to do with the out-of-doors, and he wants his fellow adventurers to be safe — and at home — in the wild.  

Knowing that too many people go through this ice this time of year when the temperatures plummet and then climb, he set out to create a video that might help save lives.

With that in mind, Jeremy Grant enlisted the help of his friends at Camden Fire and Rescue — some of the guys who actually do the rescuing when someone goes through the ice. They developed a plan to practice a rescue on Jeremy.

The day started at the Camden Fire Department, where Assistant Chief Todd Anderson and firefighter Jack Orestis prepared him for what was ahead.

"You’re basically going to try to get your elbows up, and you’re gonna try to push your body. Make it as straight as you can and start kicking for all you can," Anderson told him. "And then maybe do a little elbow crawl. But you’re not pulling yourself; you’re just not gonna have traction."

"Once you get on the ice you’re gonna wanna roll, and try and spread out your body weight as much as possible so you don’t fall in again," Orestis added.

Anderson shared one more very important piece of information: "Try to make some effort, but then at some point if you realize you’re not getting out, your best bet is to put your forearms up on the ice and hope that your sleeve will freeze to the ice itself so that when help does get there you’re still above ice."

With the fire station preparation completed, the team headed out to the ice. The temperatures that day were about 10 degrees, and there were 14 mile-per-hour winds. It was a cold day out on the ice. 

Anderson gave Jeremy a final tip: "Shut your mouth so you don’t swallow any water, and then when you get in, it’s recommended that you let your body get over the shock before you try to do anything. So try letting yourself even out, then try putting your elbows up on the ice, and then start kicking and kind of elbow [your way out]. If you feel like you’re coming out, soon as you feel you’re coming out, start rolling towards this direction."

And with that, Jeremy took the plunge. 

"Aahhhh, getting my breathing, heart rate’s stable..." Jeremy said while treading water.

He then made an effort to get himself up and out onto the ice.  

Jeremy followed the instructions he'd been given, planting his elbows on the ice, flattening out his body, and with strong kicks, propelling himself up and onto the ice. 

After a few moments above the ice, it was time for Jeremy to go back in. This time, the firefighters worked to secure Jeremy onto the sled, pull him up and out of the ice, and back to shore. 

When we met, I asked him what the shock was like to his system. 

"It takes everything out," Jeremy recalled. "All of a sudden it just puts a blast to your senses. It takes your breath instantly away. And just knowing – prepare for that shock, prepare to catch your breath – just knowing that was making me more comfortable taking those shallow breaths. The extra weight was the other thing that I wasn’t anticipating as much."

Jeremy hoped the instruction from the rescue crew would prepare folks and help keep them from panicking should the ice beneath them give way.  

Once safely back on shore, Jeremy reflected on the experience. He said his biggest takeaway was the fact that you can have a chance at being saved if you're able to get your sleeves out on the ice to freeze and hold you partly out of the water.

Jeremy was prepared — and expecting —  to go through the ice. Most of the time, when the ice gives way, it is a complete and utter surprise. It is his hope that this video will offer a few tips to folks should that happen to them. To watch the entire ice rescue video, click here.

Members of the Camden Fire Department who helped with this rescue video are Chief Chris Farley, Asst. Chief Andrew Lowe, Asst. Chief Todd Anderson, Firefighter Clint Beveridge, and Firefighter Jack Orestis (along with Hazel the Australian Shepherd). 

Learn more about Jeremy T. Grant and Timber Cross Media here

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