Quack rescueSuperior Fire Department rescues duckling from sewer
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
One little duck came waddling home Monday, aided by firefighters and a few observant children.
Tyree Johnson said his daughters and their friend were watching a mother duck and her ducklings walk across the street along the 3400 block of Hammond Avenue when one of the ducklings fell into a storm drain. When he was unable to lift the grate himself, Johnson went to the Superior Fire Department’s headquarters station on Tower Avenue.
“I told the fireman that I have a strange request,” Johnson wrote in an email.
Firefighter Neal Dwyer took the request to Capt. Lindzi Campbell.
“He asked ‘Do we do that?’” Campbell said. “I said, ‘We certainly do.’”
Letting Battalion Chief Vern Johnson know they were heading out on a duck rescue, Dwyer, Campbell and Andy Knutson proceeded to the grate. They were able to lift it off and fish the critter out with a net supplied by one of the families. They located the momma duck and the rest of her brood close by and were able to reunite them with the duckling.
“It was nice the girls were there and happened to see it,” Campbell said. “It was a happy ending.”
Although they aren’t common, firefighters respond to a number of animal rescue cases each year, from seagulls tangled in fishing line to rabbits stuck in cyclone fences. One of the crews pulled four or five ducklings out of sewers last year, Campbell said, and they’ve tried to flush squirrels out of garages. Last year a bobcat walked right into the headquarters station.
The one call they don’t often go on is the stereotypical cat in the tree call, Vern Johnson said. Cats that have been able to climb up a tree should be capable of climbing down, he said.
Although they’ve had many dramatic rescues of humans, the battalion chief said, it’s the animal rescues that leave the longest impression. In particular, the rescue of a litter of kittens from a trailer fire in 1991 launched Superior Fire Capt. Leonard Rouse to international fame. A photo of Capt. Rouse giving CPR to one of the kittens, taken by Duluth News Tribune photographer Chuck Curtis, was named one of the “Images of the Century” by the Associated Press. Rouse also got a pet out of the deal. He adopted the kitten he was pictured with and named it Smudge. Those incidents, Vern Johnson said, “live on forever.”
The girls who stepped forward to help the duckling reunite with its family were proud of their contribution to this happy ending, as well, Campbell said. The willingness of the fire department to help out earned them a pat on the back from one of the parents involved.
“I just wanted to make the point that they were there to help us no matter how big or small the task,” Tyree Johnson wrote in his email.