In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 16, 2017

Ice Fishing Safety With Gus the Mannequin and Dr. Thiels, the Resident Expert

By In the Loop

Gus, from the “Saving Lives with Gus” video series, has returned to the small screen to help his surgical resident friends at Mayo Clinic talk about ways to keep ourselves safe and alive while ice fishing.

The past four years haven't exactly been kind to Gus the Mannequin. Since making his debut in 2013, the star of Mayo's "Saving Lives with Gus" video series has gone above and beyond the call to "educate, entertain and deliver lifesaving tips" to the public. He's suffered frost bite, was saved from choking, and injured himself with fireworks. He's also been subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning and hit by a distracted driver. And last week, Gus joined Mayo surgical residents on a frozen Minnesota lake to share tips for staying safe while ice fishing. (With forecasts calling for a warm-up in the Midwest this weekend, it's important and timely advice.)

As KSTP-TV reports, Gus left the warmth and safety of Mayo Clinic's Multidisciplinary Simulation Center to show ice fishing enthusiasts some of the most common dangers they may face. He let Mayo Clinic surgical resident Cornelius Thiels, D.O., do the talking. "Not only is ice fishing becoming more common, [but] with that, the injuries are becoming more common as well," Dr. Thiels, tells the station.

As station notes this isn't Dr. Thiels' first foray into ice fishing safety. He recently co-authored a study that looked at the "patterns and outcomes" of ice-fishing-related injuries compared to those suffered by warm weather anglers. The study showed that "severe injuries, including drownings and hypothermia," tend to occur more frequently out on the ice.

Luckily for hardy anglers, there are ways to reduce the risks. Dr. Thiels' tips for safer sojourns onto the ice include using a "good quality" ventless propane heater and an ice house "appropriate" for the conditions with "a ventilation system built into it." (We'd add comfortable seating.) He also recommends avoiding alcohol while fishing (a good rule of thumb for any activity that involves razor-sharp hooks) and keeping a close eye of the thickness of your local ice. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says lake and pond ice needs to be at least four inches thick to safely support typical human weight, five inches thick for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle, eight to 12 inches thick for a car or small pickup truck, and 12 to 15 inches thick for a medium-sized truck.

Regardless of how careful you are, accidents can still happen. (Just ask Gus.) Check out Mayo Clinic-approved tips for preventing and treating hypothermia and frost bite to avoid slipping into trouble so you can safely fish another day.

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Tags: Dr. Cornelius Thiels, Employee Stories, frost bite, hypothermia, Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center, Medical Education Stories

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