He’d stopped by Sunday morning to watch as Westport firefighters practiced their ice rescue skills, but soon Westport State Representative Paul Schmid found himself out in the frigid water awaiting help.
Members of the Westport Fire Department had gathered at the Hix Bridge boat ramp to train on the partially frozen East Branch of the Westport River.
And when Rep. Schmid arrived, they had themselves a willing ‘victim’ to save.
Donning a water rescue suit and safety rope, he walked about 75 fee onto the thin ice until he finally fell through into deep water.
“When the ice broke and I went under, my heart rate went off the chart. The river in winter is not a lark. I was in a survival suit, I had a safety line attached to me, but I was scared as heck,” he said later.
After floating there for a few minutes, he was brought back to shore by firefighter Ron Vein, who saved him using the department’s ice rescue sled.
A grateful Rep. Schmid said said that the experience gave him a chilling taste (even with a dry suit) of the frightening experience of falling through ice and a better understanding of the training and effort needed to rescue people and pets from the cold water.
“I take my hat off to our public safety folks who will run into burning buildings or onto the winter ice for us,” Rep. Schmid added.