By Tia Lynn Ivey
Two Labrador Retrievers were rescued from an enclosed bed of a pickup truck after a serious wreck at the Bethany Road Intersection on the 441 Bypass in Madison.
Thanks to the quick-thinking and properly trained fire crews, from both The City of Madison and Morgan County, rescuers were able to extract the canines safely from the Chevrolet pickup truck that had flipped over on its side, driver-side down, after colliding with a Honda Accord. While the local EMS crew was on the scene tending to the driver of the Honda Accord, who was later transported to an Athens hospital for treatment, the firefighters strategized how to reach the trapped Labradors.
According to Gene Porter, fire marshal for the City of Madison, when firefighters first approached the vehicle, they could not see either dogs nor could they detect any signs of life.
“When we first arrived, we started whistling and calling their names but we didn’t hear any whimpers. It was quiet. We feared the worst,” said Porter. “But we treated it just as any other rescue operation, and luckily we did because they needed to be saved and we got them out to safety.”
According to Porter, the first one was freed after fire crews lifted the truck with the aid of airbags and were able to locate and pull out the frightened dog. To free the second one, fire crews had to perform a “controlled roll” of the truck and were able to free the other dog. After the dogs were freed, the rescuers used oxygen masks specially designed for animals.
“We were thankful for a positive outcome. Both dogs were checked and administered oxygen to help calm them,” said Porter, who noted the City of Madison Fire Department purchased the masks five years ago and trained volunteers on how to use them as part of the Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative. The Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative is a nationwide effort to provide Wag’n O2 Fur life oxygen masks to first responders to help them save animal lives, especially after they’ve been exposed to structural fires. This was the first time the City of Madison crews put their training and equipment for pets to use.
“Almost five years ago we had bought special masks for pets but we had only trained on them and had never used them. Our people stepped up to the plate and remembered their training,” said Porter. “Our guys always give it 150 percent and take their training seriously and it shows!”
While the dogs breathed in fresh oxygen, rescuers called in a doctor from Main Street Vet to further examine the dogs for injuries.
“As far as we know, the dogs only had minor scratches and bruising and are doing just fine,” said Porter.
Along with the City of Madison Fire Department and Morgan County Fire and Rescue working the accident, the Madison City Police Department, The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and Georgia Department of Transportation CHAMPS Unit all worked the scene.