Philadelphia Police Department Marine Unit trains for ice rescues

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Philadelphia Police Marine Unit trains for ice rescues. John Rawlins reports during Action News at 4pm on January 10, 2018. (WPVI)

We got a look Wednesday at how the Philadelphia Police Department Marine Unit prepares for the worst in the winter.

They endure intense training so they are ready if a call comes for an ice rescue.

Over and over again, Marine Unit members worked on the training at FDR Park in South Philadelphia.

Among the scenarios was how to safely rescue someone who might be unconscious.

In that case, an officer in waterproof survival gear literally rolls off the ice and into the water, attaches a sling around the victim, and then signals to other officers to pull on a line. That brings both victim and rescuer out of the water to a safe position on the ice.

"In our area, we don't get ice too often, so when we have a winter like this and we have ice that forms, we want to take advantage of training," said Lt. Andrew Napoli of the Philadelphia Police Marine Unit.

The message to the public: Don't go out onto frozen lakes, creeks or rivers. Ice can be tricky and have weak spots that get in the way.

"You can have an area 10 feet in diameter where it can go from one inch and 12 inches thick in that same 10-foot diameter," said Napoli.

Frozen lakes and rivers can be tempting, but already during this winter's cold spell, there have been rescues around the region of animals and people who think the ice is strong enough to hold them.

"Consider it dangerous," said Napoli. "Please do not walk on the ice."
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