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Dive rescue teams practice ice rescues in southwest Colorado Spr - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Dive rescue teams practice ice rescues in southwest Colorado Springs

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On this 37 degree afternoon, the Colorado Springs Fire Department's dive rescue crews submerge in 39 degree water for a monthly training event.

"We're running a quick system check in our head, making sure we have all the proper equipment, making sure that equipments ready to go," said Don Vanderlinden, a Lieutenant with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

Crews are trying to get under water under a hole that has been cut about 100 yards out and back safely and quickly.

The exercise simulates what would happen when trying to locate a person who had fallen through the ice.

The training and dive team rescues are called by the fire department, "one of the most dangerous things we do."

"Underneath the ice, if something goes wrong, there's really small room for error in there so we have to be able to remedy the situation when there is a problem very quickly and then hopefully get them out of that situation," said Vanderlinden.

While the dive team only runs about four to five calls every year and very few under ice, the warning is still very real, stay off the ice.

"If somebody falls through or if a pet falls through, people aren't just going to let their pets drowned, they're going to go in after them which causes issues," said David Barron, Lieutenant for the Colorado Springs Fire Department.  "It's very difficult to get out of the ice in the cold water once you fall through, hypothermia sets in really quickly, you start to lose your coordination and your dexterity and pretty soon you can't save yourself and you end up going under water."

One of the toughest parts of the job is the lack of visibility they normally experience, even though today it was around 20 feet.

"A lot of the stuff we dive in is at night and zero visibility, so a lot of the times you're under water and you're just feeling for things," said Barron.

And training hundreds of hours a year, if tragedy strikes, crews will be ready.

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