Fire­fight­ers pluck deer from frigid river

The Sault Star - - FRONT PAGE - JIM MOODIE

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.”

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