CELORON – First responders in Chautauqua County spent part of the weekend sharpening their lake rescue skills ahead of this week’s spring like warmup.
County Executive P.J. Wendel, a volunteer firefighter with the Lakewood Fire Department, was among those who took part in ice rescue training Sunday on Chautauqua Lake.
Wendel says so far this winter his department hasn’t responded to any distress calls yet, however, the training helps keep the agency’s skills sharp.
As temperatures warm up, Wendel advises those using one of the county’s largest bodies of water to take extra precautions to stay safe.
“There are simple ice awls you can wrap around yourself, bring warm clothing to wear, and always carry a personal flotation device,” explained Wendel. “Areas of the lake are thick, but there’s still a lot of open water so make sure that you know the depth of the ice and ways to rescue yourself should the ice become unstable underneath.”
The self-rescue equipment, such as ice awls, allow fishermen to crawl out of the water in the event they fall though the ice.
Chautauqua Lake, according to the state DEC, offers many public access sites to fishermen, including Lakewood’s Community Park, Long Point State Park and Mayville’s Lakeside Park.
Multimedia Journalist Lee Cain contributed to this report.