MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — It started out as a routine training exercise for a group of Maryland Heights firefighters at Creve Coeur Lake.
"We do learn about the equipment, certain scenarios and watch videos," said Firefighter David Herman.
The 13 men and two women were reviewing all of the do's, don'ts and safety moves in the event of an ice rescue.
However, out of the blue, just as they wrapped up their annual exercise, a deputy chief saw two boys, ages 15 and 17, run across an icy part of the lake and fall into the frigid water.
It happened about 350 feet from shore.
"The water just below the ice was just below freezing," said Assistant Chief Steve Rinehart, with the Maryland Heights Fire Department.
The firefighters immediately put on thick rubber suits, grabbed ropes and jumped into the lake to rescue the boys.
"One of them was floating in some broken ice and the other was struggling," recalled Assistant Chief Rinehart.
"I had a rope tethered to me and I can take that rope and put around the victim," said Firefighter David Herman.
First responders shared drone video of the heart-racing rescue that lasted about five minutes.
Firefighters said when they finally pulled the boys from the lake both were obviously shivering, could barely talk and in the early stages of suffering hypothermia.
"Yes, had they could have died, but thankfully we were there to save them just in the nick of time. For us to be there at that given second, the odds had to be astronomical," said Assistant Chief Steve Rinehart.
Remarkably, the firefighters were in the right place at the right time and they saved both boys.
"It's our job. That's what we do. That's why we're firemen, " said Assistant Chief Steve Rinehart with a huge smile.
Paramedics rushed the boys to a hospital where they were checked out.
The good news: we're told both will be OK.