At Oquirrh Lake, the ice is thin and missteps costly.
Just before 11 a.m. Monday, two dogs dashed out onto the middle of the frozen lake and crashed into the water. One of the dogs was able to climb out, but four children were left waiting for help to arrive as they watched their black Labrador-mix struggle, said South Jordan Fire Capt. Nate Morreale.
It was not the first time firefighters were called to the lake. Built in Daybreak during the summer of 2006, the lake recirculates water, which means it will likely never freeze enough to support much weight.
Although not all have required rescue, at least seven people and animals have fallen into the lake this winter, Morreale said.
In December, emergency responders made a misstep of their own.
A woman called 911 after her dogs fell through the ice. At the time, "the procedure was to send animal control for dog problems," Morreale said. More than four minutes into her 911 call, the dogs' owner could be heard still giving dispatchers directions to the lake.
Two Daybreak construction workers then attempted to save the dogs, but the would-be rescuers also fell into the water. At that point, about 10 minutes after the woman first called 911, firefighters were dispatched to the lake.
A golden Labrador lived. A golden retriever died. The two men were uninjured. Things changed.
"As a direct result, we changed our dispatching procedures," Morreale said. Now, when a call involving the ice at Oquirrh Lake comes into the Valley Emergency Communications Center, which handles 911 calls for most of Salt Lake County, at least one fire engine responds.
"One of the concerns we had is that we all love our animals," Morreale said. "If one of them is in danger, people are going to try to help. And then people end up falling through the ice as well. We (firefighters) don't go out and practice animal rescues, but the training we've had in our ice rescues has helped us."
The procedural change is good for man and man's best friend, he said.
Take Monday for example. As four children watched their pet struggle to escape the frigid water, the South Jordan Fire Department was in motion and arrived within four minutes. Two minutes later, the animal was out of the water.
The dog was cold and wet, but alive and well, Morreale said Monday evening."Obviously we're in the business of protecting the community," he said. "But any time you can rescue a dog and get a hug from a 12-year-old girl, it makes your day."
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