Northern Ireland

Baa-rilliant app assists in lamb rescue

Lamb Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption One of the fire fighters tried his best "mother sheep impression" (generic lamb image)

A two-week-old lamb has been rescued from an underground pipe, with the help of a smart phone app.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said the animal had found its way down a manhole and into a narrow pipe over two metres below the ground on Thursday afternoon.

The rescue operation was "a bit of a head scratcher," said a post on the NIFRS West Facebook page.

One of the fire fighters tried his best "mother sheep impression".

But, when that did not work, the crew turned to modern technology - an app that imitated sheep noises - to coax the lamb out.

This got the lamb to shimmy further up the pipe, though not quite close enough to be grabbed by the fire fighters.

Farmer in rescue call

They then called in a local farmer and his trained sheep dog - and they helped retrieve the lamb and bring it to safety.

Harold Crawford said: "I brought the old dog and the young dog, I brought the old dog for he's a jealous old dog but I thought the young dog would be the better dog, for he's thinner."

However it transpired that the older dog, Rover, took the main role in the rescue at its own insistence, despite his wider girth.

"Rover, he looked at it, and looked at me and I just said 'away with ye' and away he went."

Rover and the lamb emerged from the pipe a few seconds later.

"I don't know where he gets his energy from for he'd need to go on a diet," added Harold.

Fire Appliance available

In the post, the NIFRS was quick to point out that the fire appliance was available for emergencies throughout the operation.

"Usually when we post about incidents like this we attract the occasional comment about waste of resources etc, so just to assure everyone that the appliance was available for emergencies throughout," it said.

"We liaise with other agencies such as USPCA and an officer attends incidents such as this to assess, and we only commit resources if it is warranted."

The spokesperson added: "At this time of year we are reminding the farming community to 'think safety first' and to ensure that potential hazards such as broken fences, drains and ditches are properly maintained.

"Animals in distress can pose a serious risk to the public or anyone attempting to rescue them.

"Firefighters would rather members of the public call for assistance than tackle a serious animal rescue themselves as it may result in individuals placing themselves, and others in danger.

"We will do what we can to help keep the farming community and their livestock safe."