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Breaking The Ice: Greenburgh Officials Train For Rescue

Two members of the Greenburgh Technical Rescue Team practice a mock rescue at the Elmwood Country Club's lake.
Two members of the Greenburgh Technical Rescue Team practice a mock rescue at the Elmwood Country Club's lake. Photo Credit: Sgt. Anthony McVeigh

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Members of the Greenburgh Police Department and Greenburgh's three fire departments are no strangers to working on thin ice.

The Technical Rescue Team , comprised of 25 police and fire department officials, finished another round of its annual ice rescue training sessions on Thursday and took to the icy waters of the partially-frozen Elmwood Country Club lake for mock rescue sessions.

Sgt. Anthony McVeigh, Special Operations Unit Commanding Officer who certifies members and trains the sessions, said Greenburgh's rescue team is a leading unit in the area in terms of the type of equipment used and the training employed. McVeigh said the training will hopefully prevent tragedies like last week's, when two New Jersey teens fell through a partially frozen lake, killing one and leaving the second boy missing.

People often assume ice will hold them if the weather is cold, but warm streaks, like the past few days', keeps ice unstable, McVeigh said.

"It doesn't freeze easily. You usually need about 4 inches of thickness to stand on ice," he said. "It's very dangerous to go out on the ice and think it's good to go, because it may not be."

Using thick orange jumpsuits and an ice rescue platform, the officers have been plunging into different frozen bodies of water every year to do mock rescues since the rescue team's creation in 1997. White Plains emergency room's associate director, Dr. Erik Larsen, has even taken part in the sessions in case the victims need immediate care in an emergency.

The team also assists in specialized rescues like confined space, trench and construction, hazardous material, structure collapse and water rescues excluding dive rescues. The town budgeted $6,500 for 2013 to go toward the team's equipment, supplies, protective gear and training sessions, according to the town budget for advanced life support.

While it's usually uncommon among other technical rescue teams, Greenburgh's team will even use its methods to save animals. It's a preventative measure after a mother sent her 8-year-old son out on the ice to try to rescue a goose that got its foot frozen in the ice, McVeigh said.

"If we don't go out there and do it, people will try to do it themselves," he said. "This is a dangerous season of the year."

The team was deployed to areas outside of Greenburgh, including Rye, Katonah and New York City after Sept. 11, 2001. While the team's equipment and training is state-of-the-art, McVeigh hopes Greenburgh residents will take to heart that, "No ice is safe ice."

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