Barrie fire deploys drone to assist with ice rescue

Drone has the ability to drop equipment down to a person who is being rescued

The Barrie Fire Department deployed a drone to assist them in the rescue of a man on Kempenfelt Bay.

Deputy Fire Chief Ed Davis tells Barrie 360 they were contacted by police about somebody who was on the ice and yelling for help in the area of Shanty Bay Road on Tuesday night.

Davis says the drone they deployed is their most efficient and has been available for just over a week.

“We have the drone set up prior to any vehicles being dispatched because we can get a good sight of anyone on the lake, whether it’s nighttime for visual or heat-seeking, a clear visual,” says Davis.

He says the drone detected that a person was out on the ice, and it was apparently cracking underneath him.

“So, the drone did get a visual, which allowed us to deploy our hovercraft into position, following the drone, where we did manage to get the person off the ice.”

The fire department has four drones and the one used in the ice rescue is their largest, and Davis says it also has a drop mechanism.

“We have the capabilties of taking out a PFD (personal flotation device) or a phone or a rope, and we can drop it over top of the person like if somebody is stuck on the ice or in the water, we have the possibility of dropping equipment down to them.”

While first responders emphasize that no ice is safe ice, Davis acknowledges the wonderful resources in the area and that people are going to be outdoors.

If you are going on the ice, no matter the activity, he says to let family or friends know where you are going to be.

“Avoid travelling at night or when there is heavy snow, and if you can, measure the ice thickness,” recommends Davis.

He says anyone who is going to be on the ice should wear thermal protection, adding that bright-coloured clothing is good. Other options he says that some people use are safety picks and traction cleats on their boots, and make sure you have a charged cellphone.

Banner image – supplied by Michael Chorney