When was the last time you thanked a local firefighter? Every day, these brave men and women put their lives on the line to keep their communities safe.
Normally, we associate this sort of job with burning buildings and scorching flames. But firefighters regularly answer the call of duty during freezing winter temperatures, too.
Think about frozen lakes and ponds, for instance. Without specialized equipment and training, it’s extremely dangerous to rescue anyone who might accidentally fall in.
Maybe that’s why a brave firefighter in Whitefish, Montana, is being hailed as a hero across social media. David Mangold, 41, told Inside Edition he first became a volunteer firefighter as a teenager.
Recently, Mangold and his crew were reflecting upon a successful morning of helping local citizens. “We were riding a high that day, it’s nice to have good outcomes,” Mangold said.
Then, around midday, a call came in for Mangold and his teammates at the Whitefish Police Department. A golden retriever plunged through the frozen Whitefish River, and was trapped in its frigid waters.
The canine’s name is Maxx, and his owners are Carol Martin and her ex-husband Jim. According to NBC Montana, Jim was taking their beloved pooch for a winter stroll along the river’s edge.
Without warning, Maxx apparently spotted a deer and sprinted out across the ice. The semi-frozen surface gave way within seconds.
“We had a situation on our hands,” Martin said. “Jim tried to go in, and he couldn’t get to him so he called 911.”
The Whitefish police and fire departments were on the scene almost instantly.
“It was my turn to get suited up in the back of the truck, and be the rescuer that day,” Mangold told NBC Montana. He immediately donned a special survival suit to help protect him in the single-digit degree water.
Firefighters estimate that Maxx had been bobbing and dog-paddling for nearly 20 minutes when Mangold managed to swim out and reach him. “The dog was pretty, pretty terrified when we first got there,” he said.
Mangold added that Maxx had developed thick frost all around his snout. Fortunately, the dog had exhausted himself and was no longer battling frantically to escape.
Mangold cautioned that people who fall through the ice should try to conserve their energy as well. “Know that help is on the way,” Mangold said.
“One of the main reasons why we go and help animals out of the water is so that humans don’t go out and do it without the proper equipment,” he explained.
With the assistance of a tow rope, Mangold was able to guide Maxx toward the shore. Crews rushed the pup into a toasty-warm rescue truck, and swaddled him in soft blankets.
“And saved my heart in the process,” Martin said. “It was very fortunate, and a beautiful outcome.”
The following day, Martin even stopped by the station in person. She donated some pet safety equipment to thank the dedicated rescue team.
“It is good that, even though it is a little embarrassing, people are being reminded to be safe out there,” Martin told NBC Montana.
The Whitefish Fire Department subsequently posted a Facebook video showing Mangold courageously rescuing Maxx. To date, it’s received nearly 90,000 views and well over 100 appreciative comments.
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