Coast Guard rescues woman in Wilmette Harbor

WILMETTE, Ill. – U.S. Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor rescued a woman who fell through the ice at approximately 1 a.m., Sunday, February 21, 2010.

Seaman Reginald Edwards was preparing for bed when heard cries for help coming from outside the station. He immediately notified the other station personnel and called 911.

As station personnel readied themselves for a possible ice-rescue response, Petty Officers Chris Summers and Kevin Ray began an investigation of the harbor area to locate the source of the cries for help. They discovered a young woman who fell into the water just east of the station. She had managed to find and hold onto a tire chained to the wall.

“The victim was becoming less and less responsive, we knew we had to act fast,” said Summers.

Summers instructed Edwards to retrieve blankets and inform the station they were taking immediate action. Grabbing a hold of Summers by his legs, Ray lowered him down to the woman.

Reaching down the six-foot wall, Summers was able to grab hold of the victim. The rescuers were able to pull the woman up the wall and reposition themselves. They managed to clear the remaining three feet to the walkway.

“We train constantly for these sorts of events,” said Ray. “Our training helps us remain calm and focused on getting our job done.”

Once the woman was out of immediate danger, she was placed in a hypothermia recovery capsule, a specially constructed fabric designed to use the victim’s own body heat to assist in the re-warming process. Then they wrapped her in blankets and treated her for hypothermia until emergency responders from the Wilmette Police and Fire Department arrived. The victim was transported to Evanston Hospital where she is reported in stable condition.

The most important thing to do in any ice emergency is to call 911 and inform the proper authorities of the location, nature of the emergency, and number of victims.

Because Great Lakes ice is dangerous and unpredictable, the Coast Guard advises people to remember the following:

I – Intelligence – check the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going and know how to call for help/assistance.

C – Clothing – wear the proper 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 screw drivers.

Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges and slushy areas, which signify thinner ice.

The Coast Guard encourages people to exercise caution when walking on or near ice, never go out alone, and remember, “No ice is safe ice.”

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