- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The cliché goes that firefighters are always responding to calls for cats stuck in trees. Last week in Marbury, it was a dog in a well.
Around 8 p.m. Jan. 23, the 10th District Volunteer Fire Department received a call that a dog had fallen down a 30-foot well at a residence on Chicamuxen Road. Tenth District VFD Deputy Chief Mike Gordon said that when the department received the call, he immediately thought to request the assistance of the Potomac Heights Volunteer Fire Department for the rescue.
The dog’s owner and another man had been doing work on the well, according to Gordon, when the door to the house was opened and the dog ran outside and fell down the well.
Potomac Heights VFD Chief Kevin Grinder explained that their operation is the only one in the county with a confined-space rescue component. Currently, Grinder said, 30 of the station’s members are trained in that type of operation. Thirteen responded to last week’s call, although only one man, Potomac Heights Captain Charlie Benson, actually went down the well.
“We’ve rescued animals before, and I think that this is the second time since I’ve been on the force that we rescued a dog from a well,” Gordon said. “It’s mostly been animals caught on ice. It isn’t unheard of, but it isn’t an everyday thing. I think we make these rescues maybe every couple of years.”
In the five years since Potomac Heights established its confined-space rescue team, Grinder said that they average 10 to 15 calls annually but have only performed one rescue, last year when a county government worker fell into a manhole on St. Charles Parkway.
“We’re dispatched to every call for this sort of incident, as well as structural incidents in the county,” Grinder said.
From the time that Potomac Heights arrived on the scene, Grinder said, the rescue only took 15 minutes.
“The dog, when I got there, was doggy paddling, and I just hoped that he could hold up,” Gordon said. “Everyone has animals that are close to them, and this one needed help.”
“We were pretty sure the dog would come out alive, but we didn’t know how bad its injuries would be,” Grinder said.
The black Labrador retriever did not sustain any serious injuries. On the Potomac Heights VFD Facebook page, owner Robert Osendi commented in a post Jan. 24 that the unnamed dog was “doing great” and had only sustained a small cut on its chin.
Grinder attributed the success of the rescue to how well-prepared the volunteers were.
“It’s training. We train for these incidents at least one night a month on special drills, and quarterly, we try to do bigger scenarios to keep them trained for all emergencies,” Grinder said.
Gordon, in turn, attributed the success to the painstaking care the volunteers take.
“It’s the dedication of our volunteers and good training,” Gordon said. “Our whole county is volunteer, and sometimes it’s a struggle, but we do what we can to keep our crews around.”