Falling through the ice

My brother fell through the ice. He got out, but I don’t think he walked on frozen water again. I remember skating on the pond he fell through, and hearing the cracks, and stopping mid-stride, waiting for the ice to give in, and send me into the freezing water. I heard that there is an inch of air between the ice and the water, I used to imagine myself under the ice, sucking air from that little pocket while watching the people above me follow my progress until I sank.

I’m not afraid of falling through the ice anymore, probably because you couldn’t pay me enough to walk onto a frozen body of water without the proper equipment. What does scare the daylights out of me is having some kid fall through on my watch.

“Hypothermia treatment works in the following way; after the heart stops, blood flow to the vital organs, particularly the brain, ceases completely. Although CPR does restore some flow, it is still only a small fraction of normal flow and very quickly the brain and vital organs are irreversibly damaged. Thus, even if the heart is re-started, the patient may be left with severe brain injury and may never regain consciousness. Lowering body temperature reduces the demand that the brain has for oxygen and protects brain cells.”

Three kids fell through the ice near my home some twenty years ago. One died, one got himself out, one was under water for forty minutes. My niece moved here from North Carolina a few years ago, and among the many friends she made was the guy who drowned, and died, and then lived.

The Warwick Fire Department started the efforts that eventually led to his recovery. They got him out of the water, treated him extremely gently, covered him with blankets, and followed state protocols and the AHA guidelines for cold water resuscitation.


I always find time to read stuff about hypothermia and resuscitation this time of year. It’s part of being a firefighter/ EMT/retired guy who lives near the ocean, ponds, a lake and a bunch of bogs and brooks.

Instead of seeing what most people see, the fun, and excitement and playfulness of the season, we see the other side, and try to remain vigilant should some poor soul end up there.


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