Fire engine four was just returning to its station when a call came in at 4:49 p.m. on January 13. An 11-year old boy had fallen through the ice on a retention pond. The crew grabbed the dive equipment and headed out.
Firefighter/Paramedic Mike Leston put the cold water suit on in the ambulance. Four minutes later, they were on the scene along with a police officer with a life ring to throw to the boy.
“I could see that the child was in the middle of the water at that time. We obviously got out and deployed immediately,” said Jay Switak, the firefighter/paramedic designated the acting officer on the scene. “Obviously with the temperature of the water- we didn’t know how long he was in the water and when we got to the actual water I kept visual contact with him. I spoke to him and he was completely orientated. He knew exactly what was going on and I just told him to stay above the water. He was able to do that very easily and said he was able to touch the bottom. He could feel the bottom.”
“The nice thing was we had the police officer there with the throw disc,” said Tom Wiese, the firefighter/paramedic who drove the crew to the scene. “So that was a nice primary and we could put Mike in the water as a secondary.”
Leston entered the water as a precaution. The child was being pulled ashore by the life ring, but when that slipped out of his grasp, Leston was there to lend a hand.
“For being a child of a relatively young age, for him to be as calm as he was made everything so much easier for us. He was able to talk with us and explain what happened and explain that he was standing on the ground so he wasn’t treading water or wasting or expending energy,” said Leston.
The victim was brought to Edward Hospital, but only as a precaution.
The dive team said their strict procedure and training, along with the composure of the victim made the save straightforward. But that’s not to say the situation wasn’t tense.
“When you hear a child in some type of water thing, yeah you get a little bit more excited. Everything is elevated a little bit,” said Switak. “And obviously with the weather temperature and the water temperature and not knowing how long they were in there… We wanted to get there as quickly as we can and we did and it was successful so it was good.”
The fire department would like to remind people to use caution around bodies of water.
“He said he was testing the shoreline with a bat or a stick,” said Leston. “He thought it held so he started walking out more and more. Then he started kind of bouncing in the middle and that’s when the ice gave way.”
While it may appear frozen, the ice is often not thick enough to support much weight.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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