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WINDHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With spring fast approaching, members of theMaine Warden Service teamed up with area fire departments to work on their ice rescue skills Saturday.

First responders from Gorham, Standish and Windham donned their survival suits to practice performing ice rescues in the waters of Sebago Lake Basin.

While gaining their ice rescue certifications and refreshing their techniques, fire fighters also were trained on how to respond to an emergency along side wardens in their airboats.

"An airboat conducts missions that no other piece of equipment can do," stated District Warden Peter Herring. "They can go from this parking lot, they can go onto snow, to field, to grass, to ice, open water, back on ice.There is no other piece of conventional equipment that can do that, and all the time it is doing that it is carrying a big payload."

While the airboats allow rescue crews access to a variety of terrain and conditions, they are also unique in how they are operated.

"You are strapping an airplane engine basically to the backside of you and hoping things hold up," said Herring."It has no brakes.It has no reverse.It has only one motion forward and the only way you can steer and operate these boats or otherwise control these boats is under power and under full rudder.So that being said, there is a danger component if something happens in front of you, you are on ice, you know these boats don't stop on a dime."

"This is going to give us some real opportunities," stated Gorham fire chief Robert Lefevbre.

"With budget cuts and money constraints, we can't do it alone anymore so partnering with other agencies, whether it is the Warden Service, another fire department, another law enforcement service just gives us more capabilities and additional manpower and resources for the times that we need them," he added.

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