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McCreary County first responders are fur-baby Otis’s heroes
It has been said a dog is man’s best friend. However for Otis, a likable three year old, white pit bulldog who lives with his owners at the Big South Fork Trail Lodge, that saying reversed itself when men serving as McCreary County first responders became best friends and life-saving heroes, to the dog.
Otis’s tale began just after 11:50 p.m. on Friday night (February 24, 2023) when the Whitley City and Pine Knot Fire Departments, McCreary County Sheriff’s Office, and McCreary County EMS responded to the report of a structure fire at the Big South Fork Trail Lodge on Bruce Street in Stearns. The call came through to first responders with an unknown number of entrapments and a possibility of patients with smoke inhalation.
Arriving on scene, first responders found everyone had cleared the impacted building. As firefighters began making entry, an occupant of the upstairs unit told first responders that his dog, Otis, was in the upstairs bathroom. The dog’s owner and other individuals had been unable to rescue the dog due to heavy smoke.
While doing a search of the upstairs unit, Pine Knot Fire Chief Tim Cox and Whitley City Firefighter Ricky Strunk discovered Otis and carried him downstairs. Although medical services were not needed for occupants of the Trail Lodge, EMS blessedly had remained on scene for the safety of firefighters.
Unresponsive and having difficulty breathing, Otis was carried on a sheet to a nearby ambulance where Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Chaney helped load him into the ambulance. Advanced EMT Zack Starrett and EMT Jordan Hill began immediate care, providing oxygen therapy and rapid warming with heated blankets and placement of warm fluid bags around the canine’s body. After approximately twenty minutes of continuous oxygen and repeated attempts to rouse Otis, the canine finally began to “perk up” as he responded to his owner. Approximately fifteen minutes later, Otis was able to stand on his own.
After recovering, Otis was a very grateful patient and unabashedly showed his gratitude, thanking the first responders by jumping up on them, wagging his tail, licking one of the firefighters in the face, and showering his new found friends with lots of love.
Otis’s owners took him to the veterinarian on the following day and report Otis’ condition continues to improve.
McCreary County EMS Director Jimmy Barnett expressed his pride in the EMS crew.
“I’m very proud of them,” Barnett said. “They had everything covered patient wise and were still able to help an animal in need.”