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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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NEWS RELEASE 03/26/12: Portland Firefighters Use Rope Pulley System to Rescue Beloved Horse from Dire Situation

March 26, 2012

8:27 PM

Click on the photo above to watch the firefighters in action. Video courtesy of

Firefighters from Portland Fire Station 17 located on Hayden Island responded to a 9-1-1 call at 4:41 this afternoon from a citizen reporting that her horse had fallen into an old septic tank and was unable to get out. Firefighters arrived to find the 34 year old Quarter horse stuck in the hole with only her head sticking above ground level. They quickly determined that additional help was needed and requested the assistance of the rope rescue team from downtown Portland's Station 1. While waiting for the rope team to arrive they called for a veterinarian to respond and used shovels to clear dirt from around the hole to help create a path for the horse to come out of.

Station 1 firefighters arrived twenty-seven minutes after the original call and immediately set up a 4:1 mechanical advantage pulley system that firefighters utilized to help lift the horse vertical and forward from the hole. Things went quickly as the horse was free of the hole within eight minutes of Station 1's arrival.

The owner of Roxy "The Wonder Horse", Martha Johnston, was grateful for how quickly the horse was freed. "Roxy has helped to teach many children over the years how to ride, she's a sweet old horse that we love dearly...the firefighters were great this afternoon."

The only injury appeared to be a laceration to her front leg that firefighters bandaged up before the veterinarian arrived. The horse was visibly stressed out and shaking after the incident, but was able to walk on her own to the barn after a thorough hose bath. Roxy will continue to be monitored for the next few days, but Mrs. Johnston was optimistic that she will recover fully.

Horse rescues are not something that we get called on very often in the city, but Portland Fire & Rescue takes much pride in training often and being prepared for anything that we may encounter out there. Although our specialty equipment may only be utilized a few times a year for a rescue, it can certainly make all of the difference in the world when it is needed. Without it, Roxy most likely would have not survived her ordeal this afternoon.

Photos courtesy of Greg Muhr, Portland Fire & Rescue. Additional photos of the rescue have been posted on Portland Fire & Rescue's Facebook page here.