Editorial – Sooner or Later Someone’s Luck Will Run Out

In Editorial
Thankfully at least in this area we’ve been lucky.
The entire winter has been a season of fluctuating temperatures.
Above and below zero.
It’s been one strange winter.
But with the season has to come common sense.
We who live in the “sticks” know there hasn’t been a constant season of freezing temperatures.
One day it looks like Spring, and the next the temperature drops and winter is among us again.
The danger with that comes the thickness of the ice.
Police and firefighters preach constantly there is no thing as “safe ice.”
Yet time and time again anglers venture out.
Locals watch from shore and shake their heads at people venturing out.
Literally taking their lives there hands.
Life is precious.
It’s worth more than any fish.
Let me repeat, it’s worth more than any fish.
It just by the grace of God no one has lost their lives on Rice Lake or Lake Ontario in our area this winter.
Anglers may think that strength in numbers plays a part in fishing.
The more anglers you see on what appears to be frozen water means it’s safe – it doesn’t.
It could just mean people are just following others.  Not necessarily for the right reasons.
If you think something is wrong – it usually is.
Even if it isn’t, it’s best to error on the side of caution.
On Rice Lake a few days ago, a couple from the city ventured out.
They’d heard it was a good spot to fish by Dunnette Landing on the south side of Rice Lake.
Even though one of the locals told them it wasn’t safe, they walked approximately 15-minutes out onto the lake.
Almost as soon as they did, emergency services received the call from a person on shore concerned for their well being.
Through social media the couple were contacted and said it would be best if they came back to shore.
They did, and everything turned out safe.
But emergency services, including police and fire departments attended.
Part time firefighters left their jobs and attended just to make sure everything was safe.
It wasn’t a case of nosey neighbours on shore, it was a case of people honestly being concerned for the well being of others.
And when that happens the township is charged because the firefighters are paid.
On Sunday two people ventures out onto the west pier/breakwall at Port Hope in the early morning hours.
The two people later told emergency responders the lake was calmer when they arrived so they went out to fish.
But the winds picked up and soon the waves were crashing over the boulders turning it into ice.
Their escape route to shore was blocked and emergency services were called.
Police were called and decided it was best to call the fire department.
Again, the fire department is a organization of firefighters who have full-time jobs elsewhere, but are trained as firefighters.
Approximately 25-firefighters responded to the call on Sunday morning from three stations in the Municipality of Port Hope.
Firefighters had to wear dry suits when they enter the water, others have to back them up wearing the same suits so it’s understandable the need for so many.
Arriving on scene just as the rescue was taking place, it may have looked life it was a routine call, but each firefighter donning a dry suit was putting their life on the line for a stranger.
A stranger that frankly, should have known better.
High winds and waves don’t appear out of no where like lightning.
It takes time.
During that time the anglers should have realized that it would have been best to abandoned the day’s worth of fishing and head back to shore before it was too late.
There is even a sign on shore indicating the pier is slippery and no one should go on it.
But each year people do.
And each year, heroes in our community risk their lives to save others.
Whether it’s Rice Lake or Lake Ontario, firefighters are willing to risk their lives when frankly it shouldn’t have to happen.
Common sense at some point has to play a factor.
People visiting the area should plan their trip.
And don’t be discouraged if you can’t complete your trip.
It’s better off to have another day of fishing than to have none at all.
Firefighters in rural areas are sometimes underappreciated.
The men and women are trained just as well as any full-time firefighter.
But for the most part they work in the community they live.
They know the land – and water.
And at any second of the day or night they will leave the safety of their household to save another life – a stranger.
They don’t think about how it maybe wreck less what the person did.  How nobody local would do what the person did.  How it “must have been a citiot.”
Simply put, they respond no questions asked.
They risk their lives.
And on Sunday, it was shown once again, they are heroes.
Leaving their families to help others – to help strangers.
In what locals would never do – people from outside the area may take unnecessary chances putting themselves and others at risk.
For those wanting to venture out on ice this winter or any winter take a bit of time to do a background check.
Check to see about the area you want to go – how safe is it.
Emergency services will always say, “no ice is safe ice.”
But people still come.  But check with locals in the area.  They are the best and knowing when and when it isn’t safe.
Even if that is beyond your grasp, checks to see if anyone is out there fishing.  It may not be the best result as it could be a case of people following others, but it may help.
If you get that gut feeling you should go – don’t.
There are always other days to fish.  Either from the water or from land.  But the key part is, there is always another day.
Remember it, those words could save your life.
Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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