MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Two people are recovering after their car was submerged in a retention pond.
It happened Friday, during the height of the snowstorm, in Maryland Heights.
Turns out, they did something that increased their chances of survival.
As Captain Robert Daus of the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District goes through his special cold weather gear at a Maryland Heights Fire Station, he's constantly preparing himself and his team to respond to emergencies as temperatures drop.
"When they need our help that's what we're thinking about," Daus said.
He is part of a team of firefighters who have special training in water rescues and other dangerous situations.
"We continually train all year long. We have an aggressive training program," he said.
Those skills came in handy last Friday when seconds mattered the most.
"The firefighters were getting dressed in ice suits on the way to the call," he told 5 On Your Side.
Just before 3:30 Friday afternoon, two people in a white van were going down Ball Drive near Lakeside Service Road when they hit a rough patch of wintry weather. Emergency responders say the van lost control, his a tree and went down a steep embankment and then into the water.
"When we arrived we were in the water going towards the victims within minutes," Daus said.
Firefighters found the man and woman on top of the van shivering and covered in gasoline.
"Neither one of them could swim." Daus said. "So they found safe haven on top, but they were still exposed to water so they were becoming hypothermic immediately."
Hypothermia occurs when the body gets cold and loses heat faster than the body can make it. It typically happens when a person is exposed to cold air, water, wind, or rain. Some symptoms can include body weakness, confusion and even slurred speech.
Experts say if you're ever in the same situation, never stay in the car. What you should do is:
- Remain calm
- Get unbuckled
- Unlock your doors or open your window when you hit the water
- Get out of the car
- Hold on to anything that's floating
- If you can, get to shore
Daus said paramedics transported both of the victims to an area hospital. They are expected to be OK.