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Fairfielder and Her Dogs Rescued From River

A Fairfield woman and her two beloved pets almost did not survive to see 2011 . But thanks to a rescue from freezing waters by the Fairfield Fire Department , all three were able to ring in the New Year.

The unidentified woman was walking her dogs by Mill River near Unquowa Road on Friday afternoon. The dogs ventured onto the slightly frozen river surface, but their weight broke the thin ice, and they fell into the river. The owner went in after the dogs, but could not save them. A bystander called the Fire Department and pulled her ashore.

Using cold water exposure suits, two firefighters plunged into the river to save the dogs. On a day when temperatures were about 40 degrees, the two went about 25 yards into the water and had the last animal out within five minutes of arriving. Paramedics checked out the woman and her animals, but neither needed more medical attention.

“There was a happy ending for everyone,” said Fairfield Fire Chief Richard Felner . “It goes to show how the quick response of emergency personnel can make all the difference.”

Felner added that his crews happened to have performed cold-water rescue drills the two days before the rescue. The training is standard procedure in the winter months, for incidents just like this. “It goes to show how practice pays off,” Felner said.

Assistant Chief Stephen Curry, the incident commander at the rescue scene, warned Fairfielders to stay off patches of ice, no matter how thick they may seem. And if a person or animal falls through, Curry warns not to attempt a rescue by yourself.

“The Fairfield Fire Department wants to remind people that going on the ice you are in a very dangerous situation,” said Curry. “Calling 911 and activating the emergency system is the best thing you can do.”

Have you ever fallen into freezing waters? Share your experiences in the comments section.