Some roadside emergencies call for a medical team or firefighters wielding the Jaws of Life.
For others, a kitty-litter scooper might just be the right tool for the job.
A local man used such a tool to pluck 11 ducklings from a Polaris Parkway storm drain during an impromptu rescue operation May 16.
Columbus resident Jennifer Clay rallied a rescue team after she received a call from her roommate at 6:30 p.m. that day.
Clay said her roommate watched from a nearby restaurant window as the mother duck walked along the road, inadvertently leading her 13 offspring across a treacherous storm drain. All but two fell in.
Clay, co-owner of CrossFit Polaris, raced to the scene. She called on friends at her gym, who staged a rescue on the side of the road, just west of Sancus Boulevard, as traffic whizzed by.
"Five of us showed up with all these strange tools," Clay said. "We had tongs and garden utensils and all kinds of weird things we thought might help.
"At the end of the day, a kitty-litter scooper and a gym bag were what we needed."
The rescuers removed the sewer grate and resident Brian Weaver carefully leaned in to scoop the ducks into the bag. They were about four feet down.
He even climbed down into the sewer and crawled on his hands and knees to rescue two of the ducklings who had wandered into a pipe.
By that time, the mother duck had waddled away with her two remaining babies, so Clay kept the ducklings overnight before handing them off to the Ohio Wildlife Center.
"They assured us they'd be safe," Clay said. "We even went and checked on them the next day and they looked like they were doing just fine."
It's common for ducklings to fall into sewers as they march with their mother toward a water source, said Ohio Wildlife Center Public Relations Manager Bryane Roberts. A fish net tied to the end of a broom is a good tool for scooping ducklings out of a sewer, she said.
It's best to rescue the ducklings quickly and return them to their mother, if possible, Roberts said.
"The mother is hands-down the best way to raise baby ducklings," she said. "If you can keep your eye on her, if she's close enough, she'll take them right back."
If the mother duck is gone, take the ducklings to the Ohio Wildlife Center, 6131 Cook Road in Powell, or another rescue facility as quickly as possible, she said.
If nearby facilities are closed for the evening, keep them overnight in a container with grass or other nesting material. It's best not to feed them, Roberts said.
The Ohio Wildlife Center places all rescued ducklings with a foster mother, if one is available. If not, they are cared for until they are grown and healthy enough to be released.