Three Cass County agencies host annual ice rescue training event

Cass County Sheriff's Department, Cass Lake Fire Department and Hackensack Fire and Rescue continue 20-year training tradition

The Cass County Sheriff's Office, along with the Hackensack Fire Department and Cass Lake Fire Department, hosted the 20th Annual Ice Rescue exercise on Cass Lake on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
Image / Jerry Eklund Photography

CASS LAKE — The Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Cass Lake Fire Department, and Hackensack Fire & Rescue held their 20th annual ice rescue training course March 18 on Cass Lake.

This year, after a two-year COVID-19 pause, approximately 76 participants from over 15 agencies, including local and statewide, participated in the cold-water rescue training exercise.

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A classroom ice rescue technician course was sponsored by and held at the Hackensack Fire Department and approximately 51 ice rescue technicians were certified or re-certified in the course with the practical and lake exercises being held on Cass Lake in a real-life training environment.

Over the previous 20 years of training exercises, over 1,500 participants have attended with over 130 agencies represented.

Throughout the day, several exercises took place in the open channel between Cass Lake and Pike Bay. The Lakes Area Dive Team participated in ice dive scenarios and The Central Lakes Search and Rescue group conducted a K9 demonstration on the ice.


Equipment and technical demonstrations were available and shared.

Sheriff Bryan Welk reports that the goal is to bring area, regional and statewide agencies and resources together to work with the equipment, view and learn about new equipment purchases, and develop a good working relationship should an emergency arise in a department’s area.

In responding to any emergency situation, the responders need to know what is available to assist them in saving lives and how to work together. This exercise allows the building of department relationships and the sharing of resources in a real-life rescue to save lives.

“The training is unique as law enforcement, fire, search and rescue, and EMS don’t often get the opportunity to train together, making this multi-agency effort a unique opportunity to show equipment, learn techniques and share information," Welk said in a news release.

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