This created two problems, Vincent says: position, and suction.
First, the camel became stuck on its side. Camels, like cows and other large animals, can't stay on their sides long because their organs will get crushed by their own weight. Luckily, he says, the owner had managed to get Carmel upright, though still stuck.
When an animal gets trapped in mud, says Vincent, it's not the mud causing the problem. It's the suction. The MERS team is highly trained and has plenty of equipment for breaking suction, which they did in this case.
Then, they lifted Carmel using wide, webbed straps. Too often, untrained folks attempting to drag a large animal out of danger do more harm than good.
don't use ropes," Vincent says. "That will kill them. You'll cut
serious muscles and vessels and the animal will die from the injuries
So the team broke the suction and gently -- well, as gently as you can haul 1,200 pounds of unhappy camel -- pulled Carmel to safety using the owner's tractor. Carmel is doing well now, Vincent says.
The non-profit rescue squad is made of up seventeen volunteers, all with day jobs. They own about $36,000 worth of highly specialized rescue equipment, including a boat for swift-water rescues. They've been on 172 calls since forming in 2006, including 24 this year.
"We're first responders," Vincent says. "We drop what we're doing and go on these calls. It's a big dedication and a big commitment."
of the eight men and nine women who volunteer have horses, and have
agonized over seeing untrained fire departments with the best intentions
botching large animal rescues.
"We've seen too many times where a horse is trapped in a ravine and firefighters are there trying to do the right thing, but if they don't own animals, they don't know the mannerisms of the animal," Vincent says. "Everybody finds their niche."
He says that the group has encountered skepticism from fire departments when a cadre from MERS shows up which includes plenty of women.
is crosstrained in the same skills," Vincent says. "It's not about how
big and strong you are, it's about how smart you are in using the
equipment that's available."
They train once a month, and go out on calls whenever they can.
"There are probably less than a dozen groups like ours in the country," says Vincent. "Our philosophy is we'll go anywhere we think we can get to and make a difference for the animal."
Want to help 'em out? Sure you do.
You can make a direct donation on their web site, www.mersteam.org, as well as checking out plenty of dramatic rescue photos.