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PEPPERELL — Firefighters engaged in a surprise training session this past week as they attempted to rescue a suspected frozen swan from the frigid Nashua River.

After receiving a call from a citizen, members of the Pepperell Fire Department whipped out the safety equipment and threw on survival suits while deploying a boat and an ice-rescue sled into the freezing river water.

The ice rescue sled is a unique item. Not only does it move smoothly across a body of water, it glides equally well across ice.

According to Fire Chief Toby Tyler, eight to 10 firefighters approached the swan to see if they could free it. But as they neared the bird, it flew away, not frozen at all.

“It ended up being a good trainee experience,” he said. “There were newer firefighters that had never done an ice rescue before. It was better than the guy who was going to go out there in his canoe and try to save the bird. It was just a whole lot safer.”

Learning how to stay safe on the ice is crucial in a firefighter’s line of duty. Falling through the ice can quickly lead to hypothermia or drowning, regardless of how well an individual can swim.

Becoming a firefighter takes more than courage and strength, which is why the Pepperell Fire Department takes training very seriously. Training events will be held Jan. 18 and 25 when firefighters will learn valuable safety and survival skills, and will ultimately walk away better prepared.

Those who attempted the ice rescue ended up benefiting from the experience, and it’s safe to say, that swan is one lucky duck.

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