Sterling HeightsJune 22, 2012
Firefighters rescue fawn from catch basin
By Cortney Casey
C & G Staff Writer
Sterling Heights firefighters were summoned to rescue a baby in distress June 13, but it wasn’t the usual kind of call.
Employees of a concrete company in the 42000 block of Yearego, near 18 1/2 Mile and Van Dyke, reported a fawn stranded in a catch basin on the property at around 8:30 p.m., and with no animal control officers on duty, emergency dispatchers enlisted the Fire Department to assist police, said Battalion Chief Chris Martin.
Personnel deployed from Station No. 1 found the baby deer “huddled up in a little ball” near the side of the basin, which contained about 2 feet of water, said Martin.
A grate covered the cavern, but it appeared the fawn had fallen between the widely spaced bars, which were meant for gravel and sand to pass through, said Lt. Tim Bade.
The tiny deer, he said, “couldn’t have weighed 10 pounds.”
Firefighter John Farah climbed into the basin to attempt a rescue, but “the little baby didn’t like it too much,” and began running laps to elude him, said Martin.
“It was kind of like, for lack of a better term, chasing a puppy in a circle,” laughed Bade.
After Bade joined Farah in the pit, Farah shepherded the fawn into Bade’s arms, and he carried it up a ladder to safety.
“It was exciting. It was fun,” said Bade. “You don’t do that every day. It’s kind of a once-in-a-career kind of thing. You’re not going to do a lot of deer rescues in Sterling Heights.”
Though the fall from ground level to the bottom of the basin was 10-12 feet, the deer didn’t appear to be injured, he said.
“When we let it go in the tall grass nearby, she started calling for her mother, and seemed in good shape,” said Martin, who estimated that the deer, still wobbly as it tottered away, likely tumbled into the basin shortly after birth and had been trapped for about two days. “It was just a little wet.”
Martin said animal-related calls to the Fire Department are infrequent, but a month ago, firefighters rescued a dozen ducklings that had tumbled through a sewer grate behind Station No. 3, on 15 Mile, near Mound, he said.
Uninjured, the ducklings began swimming around in the sewer, so firefighters went down to the next grate and sprayed them with a hose, nudging them backward into a waiting net.
“The mother was sitting right there, squawking at them,” said Martin.
Martin also noted that a photo of firefighters resuscitating cats overcome by smoke in a house fire, posted on the firefighter union’s Facebook page, drew more “likes” and attention than anything they’ve posted before or since.
“We actually carry specific oxygen masks on the trucks for the dogs” that were donated years ago to the department, added Bade.
Martin said the firefighters are happy to help out whenever possible, regardless of whether the victim is a human or an animal, but quipped, “The cat in the tree kind of thing — we don’t rescue cats out of trees.”
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