Coast Guard rescues 2 from ice in Saginaw Bay

Coast Guard Station Saginaw River 20-foot Special Purpose Craft-Airboat file photo by Commodore Jerri Smith, Coast Guard Auxiliary, 9th District Central Region

Coast Guard Station Saginaw River 20-foot Special Purpose Craft-Airboat file photo by Commodore Jerri Smith, Coast Guard Auxiliary, 9th District Central Region

CLEVELAND — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two people who fell through the ice in Saginaw Bay, Michigan, Saturday evening.

The individuals had been ice fishing and were returning to shore on an all-terrain vehicle when the ATV broke through the ice and sank.

Coast Guard Station Saginaw Bay received a call at approximately 8 p.m. from a man stating that he and another male had fallen through the ice and were cold and wet. The station members remained on the phone with the man to help vector rescue crews to their location.

Station Saginaw Bay launched a 20-foot Special Purpose Craft-Airboat crew. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit also responded to the case. The Coast Guard’s 9th District Command Center worked with the cellphone service provider to narrow the search and determine an approximate location of the distressed persons’ phones.

The crew of the SPC-Airboat rescued the individuals and brought them back to Station Saginaw Bay where they were attended by EMS and determined to not require further medical treatment. The individuals had been exposed to chest deep water but had been able to climb up onto the ice.

The individuals will work with local salvage companies to retrieve their ATV.

Every minute counts in an ice rescue; preparation before heading out may mean the difference between a life saved or a body recovered. The acronym “ICE” can be helpful when determining if it is safe to go out on ice and what should be brought as precautionary equipment:

I – Information: Check the weather and ice conditions, leave an ice plan with a friend or loved one ashore identifying where you are going and when you plan to return.

C – Clothing: Wear anti-exposure clothes with multiple layers. If possible, wear a dry suit to prevent hypothermia, which can occur within minutes after falling through the ice.

E – Equipment: have the proper equipment such as a marine band radio, life jackets and ice picks or screw drivers to assist in climbing out of the water and onto the ice.

Communication was key in this case, but cellphones are unreliable for emergency communication on the ice or water and can quickly lose charge or service in the cold temperatures of a Great Lakes winter. The Coast Guard recommends carrying a waterproof hand-held model VHF-FM radio or Personal Locator Beacon, to contact local emergency responders. These devices provide superior alerting capabilities over cellular phones for the maritime environment.

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