On Saturday, I (Ceredwyn), trained as an ice rescue technician. This involves getting into one of these suits and spending several hours pulling each other out of icy water. We had lots of fun, but I'm sore as hell.
The fire department from the next town over owns several of these suits. We train with them so we might have the skills to go with the suits. None of our departments have many people, since we're all volunteer. We have automatic mutual aid agreements with several other departments
Here in Vermont we have uncounted numbers of lakes, streams and rivers that freeze. And every year we have numerous ice rescues. The number one reason for ice rescues is, frankly, human error. The assumption that the ice is thicker than it really is.
It's a big problem in a heavy snow winter like this. The ice doesn't get that thick before the snow comes and the snow insulates it. The result is patchy ice that is full of air bubbles. People make the assumption that since the ice is solid here (wherever they happen to be testing it) it must be solid all the way across.
There's a Peak Oil metaphor here somewhere.