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      Coast Guard practices ice rescue drills

      Officers with the United States Coast Guard in Marquette spent Tuesday performing ice rescue drills. Before an ice rescue, they assess the conditions around the victim, checking to see how thick the ice is.

      They performed two different drills, the first one wrapping a sling around the victim to pull them out. However, in more complicated situations, they also use a marsars board which allows them to rescue someone farther away in the water.

      "We want to see how many other people are in the water. Things like, are there other tracks that led to the hole that he fell through. We are also looking to see what his level of consciousness is, and that will help us determine the rescue method we use," said Gerard Gagnon, PO3, USCG in Marquette.

      One sign to look for before walking on ice is if there are any cracks with unfrozen water. There are other visual indications which will give you an idea if the ice is strong and thick or thin and dangerous.

      "You can look at ice. Clear dark or blue colored ice typically is strong. Frozen snow or frozen slush has more of like a white appearance and that's typically weaker," said Johnathan Parsons, PO2, USCG.

      Officials say being prepared is key. Take a life jacket, whistle, cell phone, a hand-held VHF radio to contact the Coast Guard, and wear warm clothing.

      If you find yourself in this situation, take two screw drivers and dig them into the ice while simultaneously using your elbows to pull yourself up. Then, you want to roll over to thicker ice. Keeping your composure is crucial to surviving. When you're in the water, you have around thirty minutes before your body goes into hypothermia.

      "Catching your breathing so that you don't hyperventilate, really, because the body kind of gets shocked by such cold water. Get your body up to an ice shelf and try to haul your body out somehow," Parsons said.