Friday, January 8, 2016

On Thin Ice – rescued dog “doing fine” - Raymond, Gray, New Gloucester crews display seamless teamwork in rescue operation - By Walter Lunt

Mishka, the dog rescued from icy Notched Pond just before New Year’s, is in good condition at her home on Inlet Pond Road in Raymond.

Mishka is back to her old self.
The dog, described by first responders as a light colored lab mix, fell through thin ice on Wednesday morning, December 30 off the west shore of Notched Pond in Raymond. Officials said a neighbor was alerted by the sound of disquieting, incessant barking and was led to the pond by Mishka’s sister dog, Senga (now credited with saving Mishka’s life). There they saw Mishka, about 150 feet offshore, struggling to climb back onto the ice. A call to 911 alerted rescuers in Gray, New Gloucester and Raymond. Units from Gray, which were closest to the scene, responded first under a mutual aid agreement with Raymond. All three departments answered the call off North Raymond Road, including the Gray cold water rescue team. Fire Chief Kurt Elkanich said the first challenge was getting from the road to the pond, with emergency responders having to trudge with their gear 400-500 feet through a wooded area, then down a steep 50 foot embankment that was blanketed with snow and ice.

Captain Nick Hutchins and Lieutenant Chris Desjardins donned water rescue suits and proceeded on their bellies to the struggling dog, who was close to exhaustion. Desjardins, in the lead, said that the ice gave out under him as he neared the dog…”And I knew, I’m going swimming.” He said the dog, its energy practically spent, put up no resistance. Buoyant in his rescue “gumby” suit, Desjardins cradled the dog, limp with exhaustion, and passed her off to Hutchins, who inched his way back to safe ice.

Captain Scott Doyle of the New Gloucester rescue team then took the dog, who was docile and shaking, and began what officials described as a strenuous, treacherous climb up the icy 80 degree embankment where another rescuer took the dog to a heavy rescue vehicle. Doyle said the inside of Mishka’s ears had turned purple. Once inside the vehicle, Mishka was wrapped in jackets and blankets strewn with heating pads. Raymond chief Bruce Tupper contacted the dog’s owners, who arranged transport to the veterinary hospital in Poland.

Desjardins said he estimated the dog probably had only minutes left in the water before the operation would have been a recovery instead of a rescue.

“You hate getting calls like that one,” Chief Elkanich said, “but when it ends that way it’s very gratifying.” Doyle, of the New Gloucester department, said training and certification of cold water rescue teams really pays off, “It’s prideful for all of us. This rescue operation was more unique than most, (all the departments) came together like seamless team.”

For ice safety, it is recommended that at 3 inches of ice or less, stay off. Four inches is good for ice fishing, walking , cross country skiing. Five inches is okay for one snowmobile or ATV. At 8 to 12 inches it’s safe for a small car or pickup to be on the ice. At 12 to 15 inches, it’s okay for a medium truck. Safety first. Be safe on the ice.

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