Two women rescued from the ice Christmas night

5:58 PM, Dec 27, 2013   |    comments
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- WZZM 13 is learning new details about how rescuers saved two Holland women and a dog from icy water on Christmas night. The mother and daughter got stuck in a marsh at Window on the Watefront.

Window on the Waterfront is a beautiful spot to see, but not to be stuck at on a cold, Christmas night. Footsteps in the snow show where rescuers entered the marsh. They were following two women, who were looking for a dog, that was after something else.

"This pet had been chasing a deer," says Captain Chris Tinney with the Holland Fire Department.

Two hours into their search, the mother and daughter got stuck.

"They got into an area that was thin ice or open water and broke through and became stuck in the mud," says Captain Tinney.

The husband was able to call 9-1-1 from the shore. Without that call, rescuers say the two women might not have made it, even though the water was only waist deep.

"Hypothermia sets in very quickly," says Captain Tinney.

Rescuers used special gear to deal with the icy water and muddy bottom. The firefighters put on an ice water rescue suit, which is not only water tight, but also allows them to stay warm and float.

"Being able to swim backwards towards one of the victims in the water, trying to avoid placing his feet on the bottom," says Captain Tinney.

Then the rescuers used a sling to pull one of the victims out.

"It gets attached to the rescuer and they are able to place this (the sling) around the patient," says Captain Tinney. "The next victim was pulled out with the dog, they were placed in what's known as a stokes basket. It's basically a large stretcher, with no legs on it."

Firefighters discourage anyone from walking on ice, but they say at the very minimum have a plan.

"Know the area, know the ice," says Captain Tinney. "Have a cell phone, it might get wet, but it might be the only link you have to get help."

The two women and their dog were rescued in about 20 minutes. They were taken to the hospital to be checked for hypothermia, but both women and the dog are expected to be OK.

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