Saturday, May 15, 2021
May 15, 2021

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Firefighters get Vancouver boy’s tongue unstuck from flag pole

The Columbian

A 12-year-old Vancouver boy’s curiosity — or perhaps a triple-dog dare — got the best of him Wednesday morning.

An Alki Middle School student learned the hard way about the danger of sticking a wet tongue to a frozen metal pole, conjuring images of the classic holiday film “A Christmas Story.”

And just as Ralphie’s friend Flick needed the assistance of firefighters in the movie, the Vancouver middle-schooler was stuck to the metal flag pole until Clark County Fire District 6 could respond.

Crews were dispatched to the school at 1800 N.W. Bliss Road just before 9 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find the boy wrapped in a blanket and standing in frigid weather with his tongue stuck to the flag pole.

Firefighter/paramedic Mike Swanson poured a cup of warm water on the pole to free the boy’s tongue, department spokeswoman Dawn Johnson said.

“This is a first in my 18 years with the fire district,” Swanson said.

Upon hearing the call for help, images of the movie scene popped into the minds of firefighters, Johnson said.

“I think anytime anyone hears anything like that, they think of ‘A Christmas Story,’ ” she said. “We see (the movie) so much around this time, it’s hard not to.”

The boy’s tongue was safely removed from the pole, and he did not need further medical attention, Johnson said. Firefighters treated the boy with hot chocolate and cookies.

The boy didn’t tell firefighters what prompted him to emulate Flick when the temperature at a nearby weather observer’s home was hovering at 10 degrees.

“Apparently, he’s keeping quiet about why,” Johnson said.
Whether it’s curiosity, a dare, a double-dog dare or even a triple-dog dare, firefighters are advising against the stunt.

“The district just wants to warn people to not lick metal poles,” Johnson said. “Your tongue will get stuck.”