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Two dozen members of the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department and Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad’s joint Ice rescue team spent Sunday, January 23, 2018 training for ice and cold-water rescues at the Long Branch Ice Boat & Yacht Club in Long Branch, N.J.

Team members trained to save people who have broken through the ice, or fallen into the cold water, using special cold-water rescue uniforms and a new ice rescue sled that allows members to safely move on dangerous, unsafe ice to reach victims who are in the water.

“It went very well,” said AHFD Chief Brian Sheehan. “We learned a few things.”

The drill was coordinated by Sheehan, AHFD Deputy Chief, Beau Marolis and AHFAS Chief Lance Hubeny.

Traditionally, team members use the Atlantic Highlands harbor for such training. However, Sheehan said the Long Branch Ice Boat & Yacht Club had a perfect setting for the drill and the club has a tie to the AHFD through Ex-Chief Tim Gaffey. Gaffey’s uncle is a long-time member of the organization.

Sheehan said the club’s area had flat, six-inch thick ice, which provided a realistic setting the training. It’s also similar to the kind of settings in which people could venture onto the ice thinking it’s safe only to fall through.

During the drill, team members incorporated special ice rescue equipment, which allows them to go onto unsafe ice, get into the water, and then safely remove people from life-threatening situations. Members got into the water to portray victims, while others executed the rescues using ropes, floats, and the ice rescue sled. They also shared ice rescue skills and techniques with members of the Long Branch Ice Boat & Yacht Club, who in turn shared some of their knowledge with the first responders.

“This is important training because of the resources we have available and our location to the harbor and the shoreline,” said Sheehan. “We were able to practice for something that could happen here.

The Atlantic Highlands Fire Department, which has 50 members, and the Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad, with 45 members, are both volunteer organizations.  For information on how to become part of the fire department, call the non-emergency number 732-291-2002 or find it on Facebook. For information on the AHFAS call the non-emergency number 732-291-8118 or find it on Facebook, or online at

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