I am compelled to respond to a recent comment made to me with regard to why the Fire Department put such an effort into rescuing “just a bunch of cows” having been viewed as a waste of Town resources. The following is an explanation:
On Saturday, February 9, we received a report that a building had collapsed at 324 Jackson Hill Rd, an address the Fire Departments are all too familiar with. Upon my arrival, along with the Assistant Chief, we saw a large section of the farm building had collapsed as a result of the blizzard. In doing a walk around and making an assessment of the damage, we saw a number of animals alive, and buried under the rubble. An assessment was made on the safety of the other areas of the building, a plan was put into action and a search for victims began. Although it may have been viewed by some that it was “just a bunch of cows," the plan continued until all the animals were removed from further harm.
This could not have been accomplished without the dedicated members of the Fire Company, all working in less than ideal conditions. Many of which were involved with digging themselves out from the blizzard at their own homes. In order to assist at the scene, some commandeered a snow plow, driving by, for a ride; while one used snowshoes for an hour to get from his home to the nearest opened road and others walked out to where the roads were plowed so they could be picked up and brought to the scene.
Although we have first responders that are experienced with large animals, due to the number of cows trapped and struggling, the decision was made to request the Durham Animal Rescue Team (DART) and the Durham Fire Company for additional manpower. Many of these members were snowed in as well, and were unable to reach the scene. The Durham Fire Company and Durham Ambulance Corps responded to these members’ homes and transported them to the scene. A member of our town road crew was asked to respond with a backhoe, to assist in clearing the way so that we could remove the endangered and stressed animals from the building.
One by one, each animal was removed and treated by a local veterinarian who also volunteered to help. The entire operation lasted over five hours. A total of ten cows were removed from the debris; some fortunately survived the ordeal, while others, unfortunately, did not. There was not one time during this rescue operation that anyone asked or questioned why we were doing this. Rather, all worked together in a seamless manner with a common goal; to help the animals in need.
On behalf of the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company, I would like to thank and commend everyone for their hard work, efforts and professionalism during this incident. Although a “Thank you” is never expected nor needed in what we do, all involved in this rescue went well above and beyond to help the animals; in doing so, was all the thanks they needed.
In closing, emergency services personnel tend to see people during their worst moments. Our goal is to always try to make an unfortunate situation better for all, no matter whom, what or where. I believe we accomplished this on February 9. Positive comments always outweigh the negative; however, the one negative comment is the one that we remember. It is easy to criticize from an arm chair in a warm home, and judge what may or may not be an “emergency” without witnessing the actual event.
This time it was “just a bunch of cows” and next time it may be “just someone’s house”. This may be the attitude until it is “your house or unfortunate situation” where we try to come to the aid. Perhaps then the critics may feel differently about “just a bunch of cows.“
Respectively, on behalf of the officers and members of the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company,
Peter Tyc, Chief