Local Firefighter Develops Ice Rescue Tool

“Safety” Pete Frost of the Meddybemps Volunteer Fire Department and the ice cross he developed. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

Most people associate firefighters with their role of combating situations involving intense heat, but in Maine, they can occasionally be found in the complete opposite environment. Along with its occasionally extreme cold, Maine has a large number of lakes and ponds, making the possibility of needing to perform an ice rescue a very valid one. To prepare for such a situation, local firefighter “Safety” Pete Frost has developed a tool he calls the ice cross.

The ice cross is shaped exactly like it sounds – two highly treated wooden bars affixed together, with the longer bar running vertically. The reflective cross is outfitted with a variety of handholds to enable the victim to grab on in any way that they can. On the opposite end of the cross, a galvanized eye hook connects with 50’ feet of rope, enabling rescuers to deploy the cross from a distance to minimize the risk that they, too, will fall through the broken ice.

Once the victim grabs on to the cross, they are pulled to shore with their weight naturally distributed as widely as possible on the device. This prevents the ice from breaking further and will ideally enable rescuers to slide the victim toward them with ease.

Frost developed the ice cross in recognition of the potential response times involved in a rural ice rescue. “Only certain area departments are set up for ice rescue,” Frost said. “Every minute counts. The thing that scares me the most is, from the time we get the call, I don’t know how long you’ve been in the water.”

A resident of Charlotte, Frost is a volunteer with the Meddybemps Volunteer Fire Department. He jokingly describes himself as the “MacGyver” of his outfit, being well known for having the right tool for any job. If the right tool doesn’t exist, he makes it. Some of his inspiration comes from his 10 years in the Marine Corps Special Forces, though Frost makes it clear where he gained his aptitude from originally. “I give all my credit to God, the way I am. I’ve been that way all my life.”

 

Frost developed the prototype ice cross using parts he scavenged from discarded equipment and accessories. He cut, smoothed, and polished the wood and shaped the metal to prevent any sharp edges. With the prototype created and now being shown to area departments, Frost’s next step is to patent it. He hopes that it will soon be in the toolbox of each department in the community, and potentially beyond, in the event that it may help save a life.