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Snowmobiler rescued after plunging into open water of Georgian Bay

The OPP reminds you to be safe when around water during the winter months

PENETANGUISHENE - Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with our community partners in emergency services want to remind everyone that with the recent cold temperatures not as much ice may have formed as you might think.

On Jan. 9, 2019, near the noon hour, a 34-year-old Penetanguishene man ventured onto the ice at Midland Point on his snowmobile heading for Honey Harbour.

He and his machine went into open water and the driver had a near-death experience saved only by his floater suit and a resident who was at home when the driver came to his door and provided life-saving care. He was also treated by attending County of Simcoe Paramedics and the medical team at Georgian Bay General Hospital.

The driver survived his ordeal and emergency services personnel strongly suggest if you must go out on the ice, having the proper equipment such as a floater suit, ice picks, a throw line, GPS and/or cellphone are extremely important should you break through the ice. 

Responding emergency services do take time to get ready and get on scene and do come at a cost as there is always a risk of injury or worse to emergency responders who may never forget the incident.

Of note, some area municipalities do have a bylaw in place with a process for full cost recovery of emergency services costs provided to the rescued persons.

Everyone in the emergency services field takes ice water safety and rescue seriously, some quotes by area emergency services directors-

Remember "no ice is safe ice" and riding on the ice is not a game. You are playing with your own life and the life of first responders who may have to go and perform a rescue. In an emergency, seconds count and depending on your location on the ice first responders may not be able to locate you in time. Stay safe and stay off the ice.

Quote - Paul Ryan, Director of Emergency Services/Fire Chief, C.E.M.C. Penetanguishene/Midland

"During the transition period of water forming into ice, for emergency services, accessing persons that have fallen through ice can be extremely difficult and time consuming. The odds of a safe rescue decrease as per the difficulty of accessing those who have fallen through the ice. There is no such thing as safe ice, however if you must ride across the ice, check with your local snowmobile clubs and ice hut operators beforehand."

Quote - Brian Thomas, Fire Chief/ CEMC Tay Township

"Cold water removes heat from your body 25 times faster than air of the same temperature. Loss of body heat causes hypothermia and can within minutes rob you of the ability to use your muscles to save yourself. Eliminate your risk of cold water submersion when snowmobiling."

Quote - Andrew Robert Director and Chief County of Simcoe Paramedic Services

"Ice And Snow…Take It Slow"  

Quote - Fire Chief Allan J. Manitowabi, Beausoleil Fire & Rescue Services

"We are all in this together, so be prepared as self rescue is likely your best bet at survival"

Quote - Fire Chief Ray Millar, Township of Tiny

"The chance of a successful rescue diminish with every second you are in the water and emergency services are at least 15 minutes before they can help you"

Quote - Fire Chief Tony Van Dam, Director of Protection Services, Township of Georgian Bay

"I echo my fellow emergency services directors comments. To those who go out onto the ice, please remember the mental anguish your family and friends will endure should you make a bad choice along with burdening the health care system with a serious and avoidable incident."

Quote - Inspector Andrew Ferguson, Detachment Commander, Southern Georgian Bay OPP

Remember, no ice is safe ice, know before you go and consider the risks to yourself and others should you venture out on frozen surfaces.

Police remind motorists that an essential part of the enforcement job is to save lives and reduce injuries on our trails, waterways and roadways. Educating the public about safe driving practices is a priority.