Steamboat firefighters save dog from the frigid waters of the Yampa River
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It was a happy, tail-wagging ending Monday afternoon as members of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue were able to reunite a dog that had fallen through the ice of the Yampa River with its owner.
Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli said the incident is a good reminder that it’s best to call his department for help if a canine friend gets trapped in icy water this time of year.
“It’s exactly the right thing to do,” Cerasoli said. “We’re well equipped to go out on ice and be in the water. If we don’t stay on the ice and we end up in the water ourselves, those Mustang suits that we have are ice rescue suits.”
The Steamboat Springs Police Department was the first to respond Monday and advised bystanders not to venture out onto the ice to try to rescue the dog.
“We got there pretty quickly and could see that it was something that the fire department would need to handle,” Sgt. Evan Noble said. “So we stuck around with the emergency equipment that if we needed to make an emergent rescue, we could. We also wanted to make sure no one ran out on the ice.”
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue was on another call when the first page came in at 12:18 p.m., but firefighter Dave Hesselton said crews responded with the proper gear as soon as possible.
“We got the page about a dog trapped out on the ice just west of the James Brown Bridge,” Hesselton said. “When we got on scene, there was a dog approximately 15 feet offshore holding onto the ice. … Steamboat police and some bystanders were attempting to break the ice out to the dog from shore or get it with a rope, and they were unable to do either just because he was a little too far out.”
Firefighters Devin Borvansky and Julie Wernig quickly put on suits designed for cold water rescue operations. Borvansky was able to reach the dog by venturing out onto the ice and then into the river and then carried the dog to shore where the owner was waiting.
“It’s not very common, but it’s very dangerous,” Hesselton said of rescuing a dog from water. “Not so much for us because we are equipped, but because civilians may attempt to rescue the dog themselves, and then we have a person in the water, which is a lot more serious and a lot more dangerous.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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Steamboat Springs part-time resident David Dennis is approaching the third-year mark from when his right leg was amputated below the knee.