LINCOLN, Maine — Firefighter-EMT Dave Slomienski has rescued dogs, cats and even saved the life of the occasional human, but in eight years on the Lincoln Fire Department, he never had saved a duckling, much less five of them.
All of that changed when Fire Chief Phil Dawson, Slomienski, Animal Control Officer Chas Meeker and Maine State Game Warden Ron Dunham combined efforts and saved five ducklings that had fallen through a sewer grate on West Broadway across the street from Lincoln Computer Services Inc.
The ducklings, Police Chief William Flagg said, were about as innocent as babies could be for the mishap, which occurred at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
“The five of them were basically just following their mother,” Flagg said Friday.
A sixth duckling and its mother skirted the grate. Passing motorists called 911 because the mother duck, apparently realizing the horror of her mistake, pitched a huge fit in the road when her babies became trapped.
“Tons of people called,” said Beth Jabs, an administrative assistant at the Lincoln Public Safety Building. “The ducks were so cute … and the mom was blocking up traffic a little bit.”
Firefighters and police set orange cones to divert traffic around the area while the rescue occurred. Dawson held a pole and net and fished the ducks out of the sewer, which was about 8 feet deep. Slomienski, wearing work gloves, carefully took them from the net, Slomienski said.
“We waited for one of them to come out [from the sewer pipe at the bottom of the sewer], and when he started peeping, the rest came out behind him,” Slomienski said.
None of them was injured.
The ducks were released to a nearby stream shortly thereafter, hoping their mother had learned a lesson about navigating town streets.
Slomienski speculated the ducks might have tried to use the drainage system to get back to a nearby stream.
“I don’t think they would have made it that far,” he said.