A balmy 18 degrees couldn’t stop Vernon Hills High School senior Mitchell Rubin and his Outdoor Adventure Education classmates from learning ice water rescue skills on Thursday.
“Ice safety is such an important topic in our community because of the large number of lakes and retention ponds we have around our area,” said Jesse Wolter, Outdoor Adventure Education teacher. . “Growing up, the students got some education about it, but it’s all done through a presentation and nothing is practical.”
Huddled on the bank of a pond just south of the school, the students worked together under the supervision of Tony Rodkey, Director of Fire and Life Safety and Firefighter/Paramedic for the Field Fire Protection District .
The students had the opportunity to go into the freezing water and rescue firefighter/paramedic Brendan McGuire.
Rubin, 18, wore a Mustang drysuit during the rescue drill.
The modular, waterproof suit is the same type worn by firefighters when performing water rescues. It has a waterproof hood, integrated gloves and attached boots. The buoyancy and insulating performance of a zipped buoyancy liner allows users to submerge for long periods in freezing water and maintain mental and physical abilities.
“It was a great experience, and the only part of me that really got cold were my fingers,” Rubin said after getting out of the water.
Last year, Vernon Hills High’s outdoor adventure program received a DARING Innovation Grant from the District 128 Foundation for Learning. The money was used to buy three waterproof suits.