Animal Rescue: Not in My Job Description!
When I was much younger I worked the overnight shift at a veterans hospital at the western end of Montreal. When the weather started to turn cold in the fall we had a problem with bats flying into the warm air exhaust from the ventilation system, looking for a place to shelter.
Once the tiny creatures got into the air ducts they would fly down too deep, and lose track of where they were at. I guess echolocation doesn't work too well in those ducts! Periodically at night, we would hear strange scratching noises in the ceiling, and then we'd see a little claw trying to find its way free. The bats would exit the ducts through the air vents, but then get caught above the drop ceiling. It would take a while for a bat to squeeze its way out, between the metal slats that made up the ceiling.
Once the little guys got loose they would want to fly, but as the hospital was hermetically sealed they couldn't get back outside. There was space to move now, but nowhere to go. The poor things would panic – and of course, that generally set off panic on the part of the humans who witnessed the escape attempt!
When Bats Got Loose on the Ward
Each floor of the hospital consisted of two care units, each again composed of two wings. One of these was a huge dormitory-style ward room that had sixteen beds. There was no door to this room, no way to close it off against the bat that was on the loose. The best we could do was close connecting doors to the bathrooms and utility rooms. We would also close the heavy fire doors at the entrance to the ward.
But we still had to catch the bat!
Once we managed to catch a bat with a bed sheet spread out between me and my workmate, and held up like a net. He then grabbed the sheet up in a bundle, and took the elevator downstairs in order to set it free outside. I was glad to be working with someone who was quick enough to “bag” the bat and get it to safety. I don't think I'd have been fast enough on my own!
Another time the bat managed to find its way into an open stairwell, and disappeared downwards. But sadly, there were times when one of the staff would kill the bat. One time I remember, one of my partners smacked the poor bat with a cafeteria tray. He was fed up chasing it around with a sheet, and he'd had enough of the poor nurse's worried cries. (You see, she had barricaded herself in the medication room and kept calling to ask if it was safe to come out yet!)
It was sad to see the bat die, but I guess it went the way of so many things that belong in nature. We can live side by side with these creatures as long as they stay away from our homes, but as soon as they “invade” our territory, it's curtains for them. Somebody forgot to mention that we all used to coexist in the wild, and most probably we've encroached on the bats' territory....
Note: This content has been adapted from an original piece by the author, which has since been removed from Bubblews
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/dharwad-india-bat-fly-wings-300862/