Milwaukee Coast Guard and area first responders maintain ice rescue proficiency

Representatives from several local agencies and Coast Guard Station Milwaukee pose for a group photo during a break in ice rescue training on the Milwaukee Harbor, Feb. 4, 2014.  Agencies in attendance included Oconomowoc, Okauchee, Delafield and Saint Francis fire departments, as well as the Milwaukee Police Department dive team.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Brian Dykens

Representatives from several local agencies and Coast Guard Station Milwaukee pose for a group photo during a break in ice rescue training on the Milwaukee Harbor, Feb. 4, 2014.
Agencies in attendance included Oconomowoc, Okauchee, Delafield and Saint Francis fire departments, as well as the Milwaukee Police Department dive team.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Brian Dykens

Written by: Lt. Brian Dykens, public affairs officer at Sector Lake Michigan

The below average temperatures and thicker than usual ice in Milwaukee Harbor provided a perfect venue for Coast Guardsmen from Coast Guard Station Milwaukee and area first responders to hone their ice rescue skills.

First responders from Oconomowoc, Okauchee, town of Delafield, and Saint Francis fire departments, as well as the Milwaukee Police Department dive team worked alongside the Coast Guard during the training, Feb. 3 and 4.

Chief Petty Officer Eric Hopperdietzel and Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Perrin, both from Coast Guard Station Milwaukee, train on the Rapid Deployment Craft during a joint agency ice rescue training on the Milwaukee Harbor, Feb. 4, 2014.  Agencies in attendance included Oconomowoc, Okauchee, Delafield and Saint Francis fire departments, as well as the Milwaukee Police Department dive team.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Brian Dykens

Chief Petty Officer Eric Hopperdietzel and Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Perrin, both from Coast Guard Station Milwaukee, train on the Rapid Deployment Craft during a joint agency ice rescue training on the Milwaukee Harbor, Feb. 4, 2014.
Agencies in attendance included Oconomowoc, Okauchee, Delafield and Saint Francis fire departments, as well as the Milwaukee Police Department dive team.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Brian Dykens

Over the course of the two-day training, participants were taught ice-rescue skills using various equipment and scenarios. While each department may not maintain the same equipment, the joint training provides an opportunity to share tactics and techniques to remain proficient in their craft. It also enhances communication and provides a chance to work together before an actual emergency occurs.

“The training that occurred this week allowed us to build upon our relationships with local agencies,” said Chief Petty Officer Eric Hopperdietzel, officer-in-charge Station Milwaukee. “It also allowed us to share best practices and learn from each other. This is an inherently risky mission and our training ensures we can properly execute during ice rescue emergencies.”

Coast Guard Station Milwaukee is one of 14 small-boat stations around Lake Michigan that perform the ice-rescue mission and train with other agencies. Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay also has two 22-foot air boats that are able to assist as needed for quicker and long-range rescues.

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