Division 8 Water Rescue Team Training Session

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ROCKFORD ( WIFR) -- Falling into a frozen lake would be a nightmare, but local fireman and paramedics are jumping into our lakes to make sure they're prepared if this ever happens to us.

It's a frantic situation when someone falls through the ice and is struggling to stay alive in freezing, icy water. Every second that ticks away as rescue crews try to reach him, is a matter of life and death. Luckily, today was only a drill.

"I came in a little nervous and scared actually, but today I feel great about what I am doing," says Water Rescue Member James Decoto.

James Decoto is part of the Division 8 Water Rescue Team, which covers Winnebago and Boone counties. He says today's training has given him the confidence to save lives.

Twenty-seven water rescue members are fine tuning their skills and using different devices to figure out what is the safest, quickest and most efficient way to prevent a tragedy.

"Patient contact, patient condition, and what they're going through when they first fall threw that ice. What's going through their mind , physically and mentally. Then what the environments doing to their body, that it's robbing that body heat away from them," says Firefighter and Paramedic Brian Maschke.

The dive team crew says most water accidents occur in the summer, but it's important to practice for all types of scenarios, which means entering the frigid water on cold days like today.

"Making sure we're familiar with our equipment, and that we know how to operate in that situation because seconds do count," says Maschke.

The city of Rockford is deciding whether or not to invest in a banana boat. Firefighters are testing them out today. However, they say they don't come cheap as each boat runs about $4,500.

Decoto says today's training puts rescuers one step ahead of the game for when this drill, becomes are reality.

Rockford Firefighters say luckily there have been no water emergencies this winter. However, they do say if it happens to us to make sure we stay as calm as possible. We lose three times more body heat if we're panicking and struggling.

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