ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. - The Technical Rescue Team with Colorado South Metro Fire Rescue is all too familiar with saving people in unusual situations.
Thanks to social media, they'll likely be talking about the time they were called to rescue Cupcake, a 13-year-old horse, for a long time to come.
Cupcake and her owner were riding on a pathway at Cherry Creek State Park near Denver Thursday afternoon when they ventured into a more rural area. Already tired from the ride, Cupcake fell into knee deep water and couldn't get up.
Her owner called for help, refusing to leave the horse's side.
Park Rangers, who were first on the scene, called the Technical Rescue Team when they couldn't pull the horse out of the muddy water.
Firefighters had to hold her head above the water while the team came up with a plan.
"It was really the first time I'd seen tears in their eyes from a rescue," South Metro Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Eric Hurst said, describing the dramatic moment.
Beside the subject of their rescue, the way the team documented their mission was also unique. Privacy laws prevent them from sharing their human rescues.
"We're usually very limited in being able to share rescues. The HIPPA act prevents us from sharing human rescues. This was a unique situation, because it's an animal."
They live-tweeted their progress, with a steady social audience cheering them on.
Soon, #savingcupcake was trending nationally.
About 30 people, including 20 from the fire rescue team, helped in the 2-hour rescue.
Cupcake's vet was called in and, after a series of shots and fluids (and a pulley system), they were able to get her back on her feet.
Hurst described the nation-wide reaction to their tweets succinctly, calling them "HUGE."
"It's amazing, certainly wasn't expecting it," he said. "I don't know the full scale of this yet... I've seen many 'thank you' tweets."
Cupcake is now back with her owner, safe and sound.
Despite the bond the fire rescue team formed with Cupcake, it might be the last time they ever see her.
"We would love to see Cupcake again, but as firefighters the last time we see someone is when we rescue them," said Hurst.
As always, a hero's work is never done. Shortly after saving Cupcake, some of the Colorado South Metro Fire Rescue team were called on to fight a spreading brush fire nearby.