Local Fire Departments Train For Ice Rescues

By: Melina Matthes

OMAHA (kptm) - Volunteer fire departments from Yutan, Wahoo, Valley and Plattsmouth joined together to practice ice rescues today. It's something they train yearly for and take very seriously. Fox 42's Melina Matthes found out firsthand just how hard it is to get out of the frigid water.

They say it can happen to anyone, anytime. Whether you're ice fishing on a lake, goose hunting by a stream or just taking your pet for a walk near the river. The ice can break and getting out of the water on your own is nearly impossible. Assistant Chief of the Rescue Dive team, Butch Juedes says, "usually it happens on a day like today when it's nice out, the suns out and everything and they don't realize that the ice is melting or melted that much and then they'll be waking out on the lake, pet will go through, so first thing they're going to do is go out and save their pet irregardless of what they've got on."

And that's when these volunteer firefighters come to the rescue. Brandon Juedes is training for the first time. He says, "I'm excited, I'm ready to jump in."

The red suits that the firefighters wear are called Gumby suits, they're made to keep them warm in the icy water. "It's made of neoprene, it's very thick and everything," Butch Juedes says.

I wanted to see just how warm these suits were, so I tried one on. "How do I look? You look so good."

Only problem was once I got it on, there was no turning back. It was my turn to jump into the frigid water. "I'm really nervous."

And even though I was terrified, getting into the water was easy. "You really do float!"

I just had one problem, "now I put my arm out"

Getting myself out of the water.

But in the end, "it was a good time. Terrifying but fun."

Natalia Stanzel is also training for the first time. She says, "it just feels weird, the water tightening your suit and then trying to get out is difficult but it's a lot different then I thought it was going to be."

If you do find yourself falling through the ice, just remember"stay calm ya stay calm definitely and try to think your way out sometimes you can self rescue yourself," Butch Juedes says.

And if you can't, these firefighters are trained and ready. "I know if I get called upon, I'll be confident in serving my community," Brandon Juedes says.

These fire departments say they are always looking for volunteers to join their teams. If you are interested in joining the Yutan Department visit To join the Plattsmouth Department call 402-296-6041. To join the Wahoo Department call 402-443-1520. To join the Valley Department call 402-359-5552.