Falling Through the Ice


Posted by on Mar 12 2010

There was a great posting last week  on the VTNordicSkating listserv about a recent drill some skaters did in Shelburne Bay to practice how they’d handle falling through the ice.  (I wasn’t there.)

It’s great to have the list serv — I get a thrill out of following the escapades that get reported on it (though it’s nothing compared to the thrill of actually getting out on the on the ice!).   We had a record breaking skating year since there was such a long period without snow – over 5 weeks of skating in January and February 0n Mallet’s Bay and the Inland Sea (the area between Milton and the Lake Champlain Islands), as well as many other places on Lake Champlain,  on clear, smooth, often black ice.  Heaven!  There were reports of folks skating for 15, 20, 30 miles in a day.

About the safety training:  first, a short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCjPsIg7hAQ

Here’s a summary of how it went, written by Pam, Bob and Dave, three of the listserv organizers:

“Eight intrepid “plurrövare” (“plurrning” loosely translates to “bathing”, but you won’t find it in a Swedish dictionary. The Swedes seem to use it to describe falling through the ice) and about three times as many observers gathered at Shelburne Bay on a warm, sunny day March 7, 2010 Sunday from 11-2 for Vermont’s first (so far as we know) skating immersion exercise, with a heavy emphasis on general safety methods. Bob provided background and posters on safety and clothing, including wetsuits (and also supervised and carried out hole-cutting and closing); Dave provided background on the body’s reaction to immersion in cold water and hypothermia based on his experience as an emergency room physician; and Pam provided a run-through of safety rules and equipment from the now 100-year Swedish experience of “långfärdsskridskor, ” demonstrating what to carry and how to pack the safety backpack and the steps to follow if one does go through the ice. (A summary of all this information will be available on the list serve as a link, and eventually on the Vermont Nordic Skating webpage Bob hopes to put together this summer.)

All eight “bathers” got out under their own steam, in what we plan to become an annual training event along with other land-based seminars focused on basic safety and “ice knowledge.”

Both Shelburne and Charlotte Rescue were present, and also demonstrated their procedures for rescuing those unable to get out on their own, using the brave Bob who went in twice as a result!

Many thanks to everyone who assisted (including Vince who helped with hole-cutting activities Saturday, and Sasha who sold coffee and chocolate to passersby as well as observers). Special thanks also to all who clearly “donated big” for their coffee or hot chocolate (because we didn’t bring that much yet ended up with $50 for the rescue crews); and of course a huge thanks to Shelburne and Charlotte Rescue for coming and for the demonstration!”

Info about Nordic Skating in Vermont at www.nordicskater.com.

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