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Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Week of Firefighter Feline Rescues

 MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

A male kitten rests in the gloved palm of a firefighter
after being rescued in Bowie. (Steve Stearns)
Firefighters were involved in three rescues this week that involved little furry  felines. The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department is a "risk versus benefit" agency, whereas, we will risk alot to save alot and risk little to save little.  The rescue of pets and animals in unusual and compromising situations is based on the the level of difficulty and safety of firefighter rescuers.  The safety of citizens and residents is also taken into consideration as invariably if firefighters opt not to attempt a rescue and leave the scene, well intentioned bystanders will attempt a rescue and quite possibly become a victim themselves.  Rescues are best served by firefighters that have the training and equipment to effect such tactics.

The first rescue was that of a kitten found gasping for fresh air inside of a smoke and heat filled apartment.  On Tuesday evening, June 7, 2011, firefighters battled a 2-alarm fire in the 5400 block of 85th Avenue in New Carrollton.  During salvage and overhaul operations firefighters located the young kitten and removed it from the unhealthy environment.  The kitten was placed into the care of Billy McNeel from the County Citizen Services Unit (CSU) who attempted to locate the owners.  The health of the kitten improved dramatically once in fresh air and was soon reunited with owners.  A news crew captured McNeel caring for the kitten while searching for the owners.

Volunteer firefighters from Bladensburg were alerted by dispatchers of a cat that was down in a storm drain and crying loudly.  Early Saturday afternoon, June 11, 2011, firefighters arrived in the 4900 block of Annapolis Road and located the crying kitten trapped about 5 feet below the street level inside of a storm drain.  The young kitten did not respond well to rescue attempts and cowered deeper into the storm drain with each attempt.  It required just over an hour for firefighters to retrieve the malnourished kitten.  Firefighters returned to the fire house and cleaned and fed the kitten.  Animal Control officers arrived and took control of the kitten to tend to her medical needs.
The third rescue also occurred on Saturday and had somewhat of a sad ending and a happy beginning.  Just before 2:00 pm, Bowie Animal Control officers summoned Prince George’s County Firefighter/Medics to the 1700 block of Pittsfield Lane.  Citizens had called officials after hearing a cat crying from inside of a discarded heating and air conditioner unit (HVAC).  The old unit was located in the back yard of a residence.

It appears that a small kitten had made it’s way into the HVAC several days ago and could not get out or did not want to come out.  What appears to be the mother cat attempted entry inside the HVAC to retrieve her kitten.  Unfortunately, the mother cat became trapped inside the HVAC unit and perished.  The kitten cried loudly enough on Saturday that concerned members of the community contacted animal control officials.
Firefighter/Medics from the Pointer Ridge Fire/EMS Station #843 and Steve Stearns, a representative of the County Citizen Services Unit arrived on the scene and assessed the situation.  They were not able to hear any sounds of a kitten crying as reported by neighbors, however, proceeded to investigate.  Firefighters proceeded to dismantle the HVAC unit and after removing the fan assembly discovered the deceased female cat along with a very alive kitten that appeared to be just weeks old.  Firefighters and CSU Stearns assisted Animal Control with removal of the deceased cat and the malnourished kitten.  It is not known if these were stray cats or family pets.
One of the firefighters that helped in the feline rescue has requested to adopt the male kitten after Animal Control tends to the animals health needs.  The adopting firefighter will name the small kitten the same name of a newborn child that she delivered on Sunday morning.
See CSU McNeel and the rescued kitten from 85th Avenue in this WJLA News video

Bladensburg Volunteer Firefighters work in the 4900 block of Annapolis Road to rescue a small kitten in a storm drain. (M.S. Bashoor)

A kitten rescued from inside a discarded HVAC unit checks out CSU Steve Stearns.