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U.S. Army special forces take ‘ice bath’ as part of hypothermia training in Northern Michigan

GRAYLING, MI – U.S. Army personnel and local first responders took a dip in a frigid Michigan lake as part of “ice bath” hypothermia training.

Special Operations forces from the U.S. Army’s 20th Special Forces Group, Massachusetts Army National Guard, teamed up with first responders from Crawford, Grand Traverse, Muskegon, and Roscommon counties for the training at Lake Margrethe near Camp Grayling on Jan. 24.

The training is part of “Winter Strike. Sponsored by the National Guard, it is a variation of “Northern Strike and allows visiting units to train in subarctic conditions without the cost of traveling to more remote locations such as Alaska.

“This rigorous training scenario instills the skill and mental tenacity required to survive one of the most dangerous scenarios posed by Arctic conditions: full submersion into a frozen lake,” said Scott Martzke, emergency management program coordinator for the Michigan Army National Guard.
“This event also spotlights the vital importance of emergency management programs and the ability for emergency managers from multiple agencies to work together and support agency planning, training, and exercise needs.”
During the two-hour training window, participants plunged through a pair of six-foot-by-six-foot holes in the ice, remaining in the water to ensure breathing control and focus before recovering from the lake on their own.
Participants then moved to the shoreline where they began post-exposure procedures to prevent injury. These included application of high-quality cold weather gear and proper techniques to manage body heat and perspiration.

The training, referred to by participants as the “ice bath,” was overseen by survival and winter warfare instructors from the U.S. Army and the Swedish Air Force. A total of sixteen personnel took part.

“We’ve never done anything like this in these conditions at Camp Grayling before, with participants from the military and our local emergency management services working together for mutual benefit,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lee Fuller, Northern Strike safety director. “The ‘ice bath’ event is a true win-win because it enhances both military readiness and the National All-Domain Warfighting Center’s connection to our surrounding communities.”

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