Jul 28, 2014
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Branford FD & PWD Rise to the Occasion to Help Resident in Need

With the temperature near freezing, Branford Fire Department and Public Works Department members think nothing of jumping in a sewer to rescue a set of car keys for a special resident in need.

As if Laura Hanson needed anything else to worry about, this mother of a three-year-old son who has just recovered from his second open-heart surgery, found herself knee-deep in a sewer yesterday fishing around for her lost keys. “I’m just so stressed,” she explained of how she dropped her car keys into the sewer just as she unlocked the car. “I tried to catch them twice,” she said, but in they fell.

Hanson changed into shorts on this chilly morning with the temperature near freezing, removed the sewer grate – something you should never do, according to local authorities – and jumped in determine to find her car keys. Three long minutes later, Hanson said she realized they keys were lost somewhere at least one foot of sludge; it was going to be a job for Branford’s bravest.

Deputy Chief Tom Mahoney, Captain Timothy Judd, Captain Rick Hart and fire fighter Jay Karpovich of the Branford Fire Department arrived to help Hanson.

“If it was any other town, they wouldn’t have come,” said Hanson.

Mahoney and crew emptied the sewer by pumping the water out and began fishing around for Hanson’s keys. “You would have thought they were rescuing a person,” she said.

The effort from the Fire Department was special to Hanson, she said, because Mahoney had also been very influential in raising funds and organizing a Touch-a-Truck at Hanson’s walk-a-thon for her non profit, Jack of All Hearts last year. Jack of All Hearts raises funds for cardiothoratic research – Hanson's son, three-year-old Jack, suffers from a congenital heart defect.

Jack was diagnosed in utero and since birth, has had eight surgeries; the latest one will hopefully be his last until he needs liver and heart transplants later in life. Jack is now officially living with the use of half his heart – one ventricle instead of two and two chambers instead of four. 

“It’s been a heck of ride,” said Hanson, “hence the reason I am stressed out.”

You can learn more about Jack of all Hearts here.

After and hour of fishing for the keys and dropping one piece of equipment into the sewer as well, Branford Public Works Department staff, Eddie Chickos and Frank Ventriglio (also a firefighter in Wallingford), arrived to help the Branford Fire Department crew. Also, Hanson’s husband Mark Hanson provided a second set of keys to move the car allowing better access to the area.

Ventriglio climbed in the sewer and 30 minutes later found the keys.

Hanson was elated with the response from the town and amazed by the dedication and graciousness shown by both departments. “I am so lucky to live in a community that cares the way they do.”

In addition to rescuing her keys, the fire department treated Jack to a ride in their truck.

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