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Firefighters' rescue something to fawn over

You can call him Bambi if you want to.

The fawn Medford Fire-Rescue Capt. Graham Payer helped rescue Tuesday afternoon did a beeline for his mother right after, so there was no time for formal introductions.

The rescue was an unusual one to be sure, an effort that involved getting the young deer untangled from the fence where he’d accidentally snagged his leg. But it went well, and Payer, 38, is confident his “patient” will make a full recovery.

“The little fella looked pretty healthy when he scampered off,” Payer said during a telephone interview.

Payer and other firefighters at the agency’s No. 6 station, located at 3700 E. Barnett Road, had just returned from cardiac arrest rescue training around 4 p.m. when a woman and her son came to the station and told them about the trapped fawn about a mile from the station, just up East Barnett Road right before the roadway turns to gravel.

“They asked if we would help, because she wasn’t sure if we would do such a rescue,” Payer said.

They would. Firefighter Nathan Wickham, who answered the door, told Payer about the situation. Then the two of them hopped in an engine and followed the woman to the fence where the fawn was stuck. Engineer Lars Borosund also came along.

The fawn’s rear left leg was still stuck in the fence — the ankle was caught in the top strand of wire — when the engine rolled up. Mama Deer stood nearby but moved away while the firefighters approached.

“It was tugging pretty hard on that stuck leg,” Payer said. “Kind of twisted around. Didn’t look comfortable.”

Payer had an idea of how to handle the situation. It was his first deer-trapped-in-a-fence rescue on the job, but he’d actually been part of two others: one when he was about 14 while growing up in Tumalo near Bend, the other while he worked on a Colorado ranch when he was 20.

The hat trick was before him, it seemed. He jumped the fence and held the deer so it wouldn’t flail.

“I lifted it, supported it, so it wouldn’t put strain on that leg,” he said.

Wickham used wire cutters to cut a small cross strand of the fence.

The fawn sprang free and hoofed it right to mom. All told, it took about a minute.

“It ran off at pretty much full speed,” Payer said. “It had a little bit of a limp. It had pulled some hide off where the wire was wrapped around its ankle, but it looked very healthy. He was going to heal up pretty quick.”

It isn’t typically what firefighters do, said Medford emergency manager Melissa Cano, but the department was happy to help.

“It is one of those rare moments when there’s a lull between calls,” she said.

The stereotype of a firefighter helping a cat from a tree came with a twist, it seems, though Payer has checked the box on a stranded feline rescue, too. That kitten, made it down OK, too.

All in a day’s work.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.

Capt. Graham Payer of Medford Fire-Rescue holds a young deer caught in a fence during the department's Tuesday rescue of the animal. (Photo by Medford Fire-Rescue)