Rocks, confined spaces, sharp edges and a bear; those were the obstacles firefighters with Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department and several other Sevier County emergency agencies had to face when rescuing a hunting dog from a cave.
“We set-up a rope system, firefighter Tori Downing and myself descended into the cave. She was ahead of me and as she was moving deeper into the cave she stops turns around and goes ‘we’ve got to leave,'” Captain Jon Lanier with Waldens Creek Fire and Rescue said. “I went, ‘well, this is over’ she goes ‘there’s a bear in here.'”
They left the cave and came back on Wednesday once they got the all-clear that the bear was no longer there. That is when firefighter Christian Ellard and a team went into the cave to continue their search and it ended with good news.
“I saw the antenna from his collar sticking out of a hole,” Ellard said. “When I said that they told me to go ahead and attempt the rescue. I told them we can rescue this dog, he’s in a good position.”
In the cave with Ellard was Andrw Wojturski from the Sevier County Fire and Rescue Squad. He just got his ropes certification earlier in the week and let his recent training take over in assisting with the rescue.
“I felt confident with my skills. I had a really great teacher for the course,” Wojturski said. “I just wanted to do what I could and use the skills and knowledge that I learned from him to hopefully, successfully rescue the dog and we were luckily able to.”
This rescue could not have been done by one agency alone and Captain Lanier is happy with the turnout.
“Waldens Creek could not have conducted this alone, Sevier County Rescue could not have conducted this alone,” Captain Lanier said. “Things like this is where we come together and it truly took the entire team, all of the departments working together to make this happen.”
The joint team consisted of rope rescue technicians from the Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Sevier County Fire & Rescue, Sevier County Volunteer Rescue Squad and Catons Chapel/Richardsons Cove Volunteer Fire Department.
The dog named “Charlie” was successfully pulled from the cave. He was returned to his owners last night with an empty stomach and only a few scrapes.