When pressed by the newspaper’s reporter, police and firefighters defended their inaction.
“They followed our ice rescue guidelines pretty much to a T,” Champaign Deputy Fire Chief Eric Mitchell told The News Gazette.
“They established command … they made visual contact and attempted to talk to him, threw rescue devices, and went on the water,” he said. “Going on the water is the last thing you want to do. They did all the other things first.”
“The way we’re trained, you have several different positions that have to be filled to do water rescue safely. … You have a leader and a victim observer [whose] job is to make contact visually with the victim and try to talk to him,” he told the newspaper.
Some commentators in the newspaper’s comments section, however, applauded the firefighters’ caution, noting that an unruly or frightened victim can endangered rescuers.