Firefighters pluck deer from frigid river
SUDBURY — An exhausted deer was fished from icy water by Greater Sudbury firefighters.
A pair of rescuers in a brightyellow boat are shown hustling to the aid of the distraught animal, which went through the ice on the Vermillion River near Whitefish.
After an attempt to hook the deer with a long pole doesn’t work, one of the firefighters goes right into the water to help the animal get to shore. After struggling to gain its footing, the deer bounds off into the woods, seemingly unscathed.
Platoon Chief Andre Groulx said he arrived at the fire station to learn a deer had been saved.
“It was stuck in the water so our water rescue team was called out,” he said.
He said the rescuers used a “banana boat,” a type of inflatable more formally referred to as a rapid deployment craft.
Each fire truck in the full-time fleet carries one of these emergency boats, which are packed in a bag but “pretty fast to deploy,” said Groulx. “We use the air from our breathing apparatus to fill it.”
The crew members who helped the deer were dressed appropriately for the situation.
“Obviously the guys have to gear up in full immersion suits to go in the ice-cold water,” he said.
Groulx wasn’t sure how long the deer had been swimming in the frigid river but imagined it would not have lasted much longer had the rescue team not jumped into action.
“They get exhausted fast in that temperature of water,” he said.
While nobody wants to see an animal suffer or perish, the main reason the fire department responds in this kind of situation is to protect people from harm.
“Our concern is public safety,” said Groulx. “So when we rescue animals on the ice, it’s because we don’t want a bystander to go out and risk their lives.”
He said the department gets calls of stranded animals fairly often, although usually it concerns a pet.
“Every year we do encounter them,” he said. “Most of the calls are for dogs — somebody goes walking with them in the bush, and it goes out on the ice and gets in trouble.”
The platoon chief said he always encourages dog owners to keep their animals on a leash if they are venturing near water, especially in the shoulder seasons when ice is forming or melting.
“Wildlife we don’t have control over but if you are out with a dog, you should have it leashed,” he said. “It can happen fast, and it happens every year in the spring or late fall.”