Modesto fire fighters rescue dog trapped 8 feet beneath the ground in narrow pipe, US
Fire fighter training on confined space entry was put to use Saturday night, 12 September 2020, when a member of the Modesto Fire Department in California, US, had to wriggle about 50 feet into an 18-inch-diameter irrigation pipe to rescue a dog. The call for help from a Valley Home residence came in about 19h45 and the rescue operation took about two hours, said Battalion Chief Jesse Nicasio. He said the situation was evaluated and the decision to attempt the rescue was made in part to avoid the possibility that a family member might try to retrieve the pet, which is old and hard of hearing. The members of the teams who conducted the rescue regularly train on various types of rescues, low angle, high angle, trench, confined spaces, in the event they have to save a person, Nicasio said. “There are very specific rules and regulations they have to follow” in different situations, he added. In this case, the crews had to put a monitor down in the irrigation vault to check the ambient air and supply forced ventilation to the pipe. The two fire fighters who went into the vault also had to have personal air monitors. The fire fighter who entered the narrow pipe, Capt Jason Fritz, had an air supply line to the outside but also a very small backup tank on him should the line have been severed, Battalion Chief Nicasio said.
When crews arrived at a home on the 11000 block of Pioneer Avenue, south of Valley Home, family members and friends already were in the irrigation vault, eight feet below the surface, attempting to coax out the dog. The animal had last been seen walking along a ditch bank about two hours earlier. It’s believed the dog entered the irrigation pipe from the ditch end, not from falling into the vault.
In the vault, crews had to remove a gate valve and chip out a coupler for access to the pipe. Without doing so, the opening would have been less than 15 inches. The 18-inch diameter allowed Fritz to enter, wearing a harness with a line attached so his partner in the vault could pull him back out. When Fritz reached the dog, he was able to put a sling on it.
“The dog was reunited with her family, tired and scared, but appeared to be uninjured,” Battalion Chief Nicasio wrote in his incident summary.
The effort required teamwork well beyond Fritz and his colleague in the irrigation vault, the battalion chief said. Other crew members watched the air monitors and supply line, changed out air canisters and more.
Their training allows them to perform such rescues when “just looking into spaces like that makes most people claustrophobic, let along being in an air mask and other gear,” said Battalion Chief Nicasio.
The response to the scene included Modesto crews, a Stanislaus Consolidated battalion chief, Oak Valley Ambulance, the California Highway Patrol and Stanislaus County Animal Services.
Source: The Modesto Bee