Numerous agencies take part in annual ice rescue training in Cass County

After a two-year pause because of COVID-19, approximately 76 participants from over 15 agencies, including local and statewide, participated in the cold-water rescue training exercise.

Emergency personnel train for ice rescues.
Emergency personnel from numerous agencies participate in the annual Ice Rescue Training Course March 18 on Cass Lake.
Contributed / Jerry Eklund Photography

CASS LAKE — The Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Cass Lake Fire Department and Hackensack Fire & Rescue had its 20th annual Ice Rescue Training Course Saturday, March 18, on Cass Lake.

After a two-year pause because of COVID-19, approximately 76 participants from over 15 agencies, including local and statewide, participated in the cold-water rescue training exercise, Cass County Sheriff Bryan Welk said in a news release.

A classroom Ice Rescue Technician Course was sponsored by and held at the Hackensack Fire Department and approximately 51 ice rescue technicians were certified or recertified in the course with the practical and lake exercises being held on Cass Lake in a real-life training environment. Over the previous 20 years, training exercises over 1,500 participants have attended with over 130 agencies represented.

Throughout the day, several exercises took place in the open channel between Cass Lake and Pike Bay. The Lakes Area Dive Team participated in ice dive scenarios and The Central Lakes Search and Rescue group conducted a K-9 demonstration on the ice. Equipment and technical demonstrations were available and shared.

Welk said the goal is to bring area, regional and even statewide agencies and resources together to work with the equipment, view and learn about new equipment purchases, and develop a good working relationship should an emergency arise in a department’s area. In responding to any emergency situation, the responders need to know what is available to assist them in saving lives and how to work together, Welk said. This exercise, he added, allows the building of department relationships and the sharing of resources in a real-life rescue to save lives.


“The training is unique as law enforcement, fire, search and rescue and EMS don’t often get the opportunity to train together making this multi-agency effort a unique opportunity to show equipment, learn techniques, and share information,” Welk said.

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