"It's definitely cold," Cardona said, "but it helps with the preparedness and understanding what you have to do to keep yourself safe as a member of the rescue team, what you have to do to keep your team members safe, and how severe and serious it is to be careful around moving bodies of water and even lakes in the winter."
During the course of their training, members of the ASPCA team and local emergency responders were dressed in drysuits, which, true to their name, kept them dry while in the water. However, the frigid temperatures of the water, were a sobering reminder of the dangers of how hypothermia, frostbite, and potential loss of life.
"[The suits] keep you dry, but they don't keep you warm," said Cardona, who added the teams wore layers beneath their suits to compensate for the cold. "If we didn't have all this stuff on, we wouldn't last very long in the water."
When faced with a cold-water rescue operation, one thing Cardona said the team learned is that time is an even more important factor than in other disaster situations.
"In extremely cold waters, you start to get confused easily," said Cardona. "The important thing is keeping your wits about you, taking a moment to think ... Staying calm is very important."
That advice is also good for those who aren't trained professionals when encountering an animal trapped on the ice, said Uhler. The main thing to do in such an event is to remain calm and not react out of emotion, he said.
"I have a 5-year-old chocolate lab that I love to death," said Uhler. "I understand how people care about their pets almost as much as their children and look as their pets as an extension of their family. Animals are very important but there's a reduced risk of potential dangers for everyone involved when you leave rescuing to people who are trained to do it."
"We really try to train ourselves to the same standards as responders for human rescues," said Cardona. "It's really great to see a group like the Saranac Technical Rescue Team who is a human first responder team, really understanding the importance of the animal component in rescues."