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Janesville native gains worldwide attention after dog rescue

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 24, 2011
— Last Tuesday was just another day on the job for Wausau firefighters Jared Thompson and Jamie Giese until they saved a dog rescued from a house fire by giving it mouth-to-snout respiration.

After their heroic episode was captured by a local newspaper photographer and hit the wire services, they gained international recognition.


“We’ve gotten e-mails from Brazil, Australia and Switzerland,’’ Thompson said in a weekend phone interview.


“It’s flattering how much this has touched people’s lives, but we don’t expect to get this kind of attention because this is what we go to work to do,’’ he said.


Other media took notice, too.


An assistant from Anderson Cooper’s daytime TV talk show on CNN was the first to contact the firefighters.


“They wanted to try to get us to New York, but we haven’t heard anymore,’’ Thompson said.


They also did a live feed Friday with “The Today Show” on NBC.


Producers of a Wausau ABC affiliate TV station also are submitting information to “The Ellen De Generes Show” to see if she’s interested in inviting them to be on her show.


Their rescue also was publicized in the Daily Mirror in London.


“I went on their website and found it, but I don’t know if it was on the front page,” Thompson said.


Thompson finds all of the publicity overwhelming.


“You just don’t realize the impact doing your job can have on people,’’ he said.


Thompson, who is a Janesville native and the son of Guynith and Thomas Thompson of Janesville, graduated from Craig High School in 1998 and has been a Wausau firefighter for nine years.


Although Thompson and Giese had seen animal artificial respiration performed before, they had never done it until Tuesday.


Yet they didn’t hesitate after firefighters from the department’s Westside Engine Co. 2 found the dog in the house fire and brought him out.


“He was struggling so much, just kind of taking some really shallow, sporadic respiration and still alive but wasn’t moving. So me and my partner (Giese) decided to give some attention to the dog,’’ Thompson said.


After Giese gave the dog a couple puffs through the dog’s nose, Thompson could see the dog’s stomach fill up with air.


Then one of the other firefighters ran to an ambulance to get an oxygen tank so they could put a mask on the dog’s face.


“Once he could inhale some oxygen, he was able to start coming around. It took maybe five to 10 minutes,” Thompson said.


After clearing the fire scene, Thompson and Giese returned to the firehouse, cleaned up and made dinner.


That’s when “the phone calls started pouring in,” Thompson said.


“We thought we might get some local attention, but we never thought it was going to get worldwide attention,’’ he said.


Yet it did, and it will be something the modest Thompson will remember forever.


“I go to work to assist people with whatever it is they need help with. I think any firefighter in the nation would have done the same thing. I got sworn in as a firefighter to protect and serve residents of Wausau and this resident just happened to be a dog.’’



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