Falling through the ice is less life-threatening if you are with others, especially if they’re prepared
for such an event.
Some very experienced Yukoners have put planes, trucks, four-wheelers, and snowmobiles through the ice. A greater number have gone through on foot. It usually happens quickly with little chance to take preventative action. If your vehicle goes through, it’s always better if you aren’t in it.
So, you broke through the ice, and are in icy water. Hopefully, people nearby will jump into rescue-mode very quickly, but it will still seem like a long time to you. Prior preparation by your rescuers will increase efficiency.
They should toss you a set of ice-picks, to start with. Someone should have a coiled rope accessible. If the rope reaches you before you’re incapacitated by the cold, a knot can be tied around an arm or chest.
The rescuer should never put himself into a situation where he needs to be rescued, too; two or more rescues are much more difficult than one.
With that in mind, rescuers should not crowd together, or get close to the edge of the hole. If using a rope, rescuers should be spread out along its length, and those closest to the hole should be seated to spread their weight. Someone should go to shore and get a couple of long poles for use in getting you up and over the edge of the ice.
A quickly emptied skimmer or sled can be pushed to the edge of the hole and then pulled back by a rope on the front, hauling you with it. You should roll away from the hole because this spreads body weight, lessening the chance of going through again.
If you’re hypothermic and unable to help with the rescue, it may be necessary for someone to crawl (using the poles or skimmer) to the edge of the hole to put a rope around you. The rescuer may have to stay in that position to assist you onto the ice. You should be dragged some distance away from the hole, because the rescuer will need help to get you on a snow machine, or into a skimmer.
A huge fire should be lit onshore, to warm you. You should get in dry clothes. You need to be warmed up before travelling further.
For snowmobile ice travel, in addition to ice picks, I have a 50’ rope with a carabineer on one end and a float on the other (so it stays high and visible in the water). The float end also has a loop to make a quick slip-knot around the your arm or chest.