Calif. urban search and rescue team saves 7 ducklings from storm drain

The team spent an hour rescuing the water fowl after discovering the drain extended 30 feet below street level

Sara Cardine
Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Members of the Huntington Beach Fire Department engaged in a daring rescue effort Thursday that took them to harrowing depths but ended with seven lives being saved — and their mama couldn't be happier.

Spokesman Eric Blaska said the incident took place Thursday at around noon on Gothard Street near Promenade Parkway.

"Today your Firefighters on HE46 were flagged down by bystanders due to ducks crossing the street. After making contact, it was found that 7 baby ducks were far down into a storm drain almost 30 feet below ground. Due to the technical component, HE46 called for the Huntington Beach Fire Department’s Urban Search & Rescue Team was able to rescue the 7 baby ducks in the storm drain and brought them to safety. Your Urban Search & Rescue Team is responsible for shoring operations, technical rescues, confined space rescues, and trench rescues – they are always ready to serve our community," HBFD wrote in a Facebook post. (Photo/HBFD)

"One of our engines was out driving and they saw someone waving them down, " he said.

A resident indicated a mother duck and some of her ducklings were hovering in an area near a storm drain and some of the babies seemed to be stuck inside the structure.

Firefighters lifted the lid, only to discover the drain extended about 30 feet below street level. Backup would be needed. They called the department's urban search and rescue team, whose members specialize in rescues involving trenches, steep terrain and confined spaces, according to Blaska.

"They suited up in all their gear and went 30 feet down to rescue all the ducklings, " he said of the operation, which lasted about an hour as the mother duck and her other offspring watched from a distance. "Mom was over in the grass kind of far away. I think she was afraid of the fire engines."

When all was said and done, seven ducklings were extracted from the storm drain and handed over to Orange County Animal Care, which provides animal control services for the city of Huntington Beach.

O.C. Animal Care Asst. Director Monica Schmidt confirmed a field officer transported the baby ducks to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, where they received medical evaluations and were still being held Friday.

Blaska said the fire department has conducted a number of animal rescues in its long history, listing cats, parrots and rabbits among some of the more recently aided species.

"Any animals that need to be rescued, we 'll always send people there, " he added. "We are here to help."


(c)2021 the Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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