Emergency responders from the Pelican and Newbold fire departments spent a little over an hour Thursday afternoon searching Lake Thompson after Oneida County Dispatch received a report indicating a person may have fallen through the ice.
Deputy Pelican Fire Chief Norm Peterson said firefighters responded to West Bay Campground after a caller told a 9-1-1 dispatcher that they thought they had heard someone shouting for help.
After the first units on the scene searched the shoreline for a place to launch Newbold Fire's airboat, the staged rescue units relocated to Holiday Acres.
"We took the airboat around the lake to be sure," Peterson said. "We did not see any footprints coming out (from shore), nothing suspicious on the lake."
With the air temperature at 17 degrees and a wind chill of 8, Peterson said it was very cold in the airboat, despite everyone wearing dry suits.
"I had not been on (the airboat) before, I'd love to do it in the summer," Peterson said. "It was cold, but it's the safest way to do this (search a large body of water). We were breaking through in places."
Peterson said two Pelican firefighters were in the airboat and he went along to tend the ropes in case they would have to go out on the ice and would subsequently go into the water themselves.
He said this was the first time Pelican Fire was called out for an ice rescue this season.
"We had our ice rescue training in the month of November," Peterson said. "But this was our first call."
Peterson said ice fishermen and others should be extra careful when heading out onto area lakes as the ice varies in thickness.
"In some places it was nice and solid, in others the boat was breaking through," Peterson said. "I'm not an ice fisherman, so I don't know how to tell people what to do out there, but be safe. That I will say."
In addition to breaking through the ice in places, the airboat also kicked up snow that blew onto the five men, which added to the cold they experienced, Peterson added.
"It was not fun," he confirmed.
In addition to Pelican and Newbold fire and first responders, the Oneida County Sheriff's Department and an Oneida County ambulance responded to the scene.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at email@example.com.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce