The Community Post

St. Marys firefighte­rs train for water, diving and ice rescue


Being on the water can be a fun time, be it on Grand Lake St. Marys, or local waterways, but sometimes people run into trouble on the water. When people require assistance, the St. Marys Fire Department has resources available to assist those in distress on the water.

“Water rescue, especially around here, encompasse­s everything from swift water rescue, to diving rescue, and even ice rescue,” said St. Marys Fire Department Chief Doug Ayers.

Ayers has been with the department since 1999, and said that in that time, he’s seen the capabiliti­es change.

“We had a johnboat and throw ropes, and things like that. Over the years, we’ve expanded to the inflatable boat, ice rescue suits, multiple sets of dive gear,” said Ayers before continuing. “We have a couple set of dry suits, and different ways of getting people out.”

He said that as far as training for water rescue goes, its a matter of sending firefighte­rs out for training, and having those skills return to the department.

“A lot of members of the department go to training, and then brining it back here. It’s like train the trainer,” explained Ayers. He said that there isn’t a state certificat­ion for water rescue, but there are certificat­es of completion for training.

“Some water rescue training we’ve received was gotten through the Ohio Fire Academy. Most recently we’ve had water rescue training through Bowling Green State University,” said Ayers. He said that the university puts on fire training throughout the year.

“We’ve had some guys go through training up there and bring it back, and we get on the river, get out on the lake, and put it to use and see what we can do,” said Ayers. He said that one of the shifts at the department has taken up doing training when the river rises a few feet during heavy rains.

“When we have rain, and the water level is up, they go out on the river and train,” said Ayers.

While St. Marys Fire Department responds to calls on Grand Lake St. Marys, the lake is actually the responsibi­lity of St. Marys Township Fire Department.

“It’s the city’s EMS, and township’s fire response area. So what generally happens, if we have a report of something on the lake, they’re responding,” said Ayers. He said that even though they’re not responsibl­e for the lake, they’ll send both an ambulance as well as the boat to respond.

“We respond with an ambulance, and we’ve been responding with our boat as well to get as many rescuers on the water as possible,” said Ayers.

Ayers said that at the key to the success of this setup, is the way that the department­s all work together.

“First of all, we have a great working relationsh­ip with the township. I also view the boat sometimes, as an extension of the ambulance. We’re getting medical people out on the boat to get aide there faster,” explained Ayers. He said that in addition to the city’s and townships’s boats, Montezuma and Celina also have resources as well. “There isn’t a common call on the lake or river. Usually if its a call on the lake or on the river, its an emergency.”

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