On Wednesday, March 6, the Wallenpaupack Emergency Responder Club listened as Forest Fire Specialist Supervisor William Delling of Delaware State Forest, District 19 and Harrison Balthaser, Forest Volunteer Fire Company Dive Team captain informed the group about fire-fighting and ice rescue.
According to Delling the Bureau of Forestry focuses on three distinct steps to contend with potential wildlife fires: public awareness through Smokey the Bear prevention programs; fire preparedness during the ready phase, which includes training, equipment, and pre-planning; fire suppression and investigation using planes, fire towers, and individual fire reports.
As a Fire Scene investigator, Delling must determine every fire’s cause and origin and track it out and back. Once he determines who—if anyone—is responsible for causing the fire, he then gathers evidence to decide the level of responsibility. Noting that spring, primarily March, is the height of wildfire season, Delling showed the club members wildfire slides and fire-fighting methods.
Having been a rescue diver since 1987, Balthaser showed the students one of his ice rescue training videos. During his multi-media presentation, he pinpointed various rescue techniques and equipment the divers employ to save lives. Afterward, Balthaser displayed various ice rescue suits, permitting a few club members to suit up.
Then, he explained how the divers use the rescue straps, carabineers, and helmets to ensure the divers’ safety. Balthaser explained how critical it is for victims to try to help themselves until rescuers arrive: stay close to the ice shelf, keep as much air in your lungs as possible for buoyancy and once you are on the ice, spread out your weight - don’t stand up.
He encouraged students to attend training as divers are always needed.