Rescuer helps Lab to shore

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—A Yellow Labrador retriever named Lomis scoots past his rescuer, Grand Junction firefighter Brandi Manuppella, still dressed in an ice-rescue suit, after she broke the ice at West Lake Park so that the dog would have a clear path to swim through.


Colorado Parks and Wildlife makes the following safety suggestions for people on or around ice-covered bodies of water:

• People who are fishing, skating or ice sailing should ensure the ice is at least 4 inches thick.

• Snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles need at least 5 inches of ice to cross it safely.

• Anyone on ice should bring along a friend, wear a life preserver over clothes and carry an ice pick, rope and whistle.

• Dogs should be kept on a leash near frozen lakes, and if a dog or person falls through the ice, throw out a flotation device or a rope, or go for help.

If you fall through the ice:

• Don’t panic. Try to remain calm to conserve energy. Place your arms on the ice, kick your feet to get onto the ice and roll to safety.

• Don’t swim. Move as slowly as possible. Trying to swim will cause your body to lose heat faster than by staying as still as possible. Your body’s strength and ability decrease as it gets colder.

• Keep your head and upper body out of the water as much as possible. It will help conserve body heat.

Tor Larson couldn’t wait to get home to warm up and tend to his cut up, bloodied arms.

His 3-year-old yellow Lab, Lomis, however, acted as if nothing had happened minutes after he was rescued after falling through the ice Wednesday afternoon at West Lake Park.

“I thought he was done,” Larson said while looking down at Lomis, who still wanted to play fetch with a piece of wood.

Lomis went to fetch the stick and broke through the ice in the middle of the pond and was thrashing around for about 20 minutes before being rescued by a Grand Junction Fire Department firefighter dressed in an ice-rescue suit.

Larson said he attempted to lie on the ice to get to his dog, but he broke through and fell into water up to his chest. Larson then retreated to the bank.

Firefighter Brandi Manuppella broke a trail through the ice so that the dog could swim with its head above water and follow her back to shore, said Duncan Brown, battalion captain for the Grand Junction Fire Department.

“By the time we got to the dog he was very exhausted,” Brown said.

Water temperature under ice can be about 33 degrees, and although ice can look thick this time of year, it may not be thick enough to hold up a person or an animal, he said.

“It’s going to get very cold, very fast, and you could become a victim, too,” Brown said about trying to save others or animals that have broken through ice.


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