SWIFTWATER RESCUE OF TWO CHILDREN 4/8/06
Battalion 14 responded with a River Swiftwater assignment to a report of 2 victims in the Pacoima Wash on Saturday, April 8, 2006.
Engine 98 was first to arrive on scene at their designated Rescue Point for the Pacoima Wash just South of the Del Sur Pedestrian Footbridge (Del Sur X Haddon). They positioned their apparatus as a "hard point" adjacent to the trapazoidal channel as Firefighter Mike Celestino, FS 98 "A", ran to the edge of the channel to check for victims.
Looking up the channel he saw two young girls in the water rapidly approaching E 98s position. Firefighter Celestino, already having donned proper protective gear including life vest, tennis shoes and helmet, grabbed E 98s Life Ring as the members of the crew secured him with a line to the hard point.
As he scrambled down the concrete channel wall Firefighter Celestino knew that he would only get one chance to rescue the girls.
As they reached him he leaned out over the water and extended the life ring to the oldest girl.
The 16 year old girl grabbed the ring as Firefighter Celestino began to run down the edge of the channel to lessen the force of the rapidly moving water. The younger girl, who was 11 years old, was holding on to her friend and was unable to grab the ring.
As they moved down the channel Firefighter Celestino was able to pull both children to the waters edge and attempted to hold them until additional rescuers could assist. As he held them he noticed that the younger girl was losing her grip on the older girl and could be swept away at any second. At that point Firefighter Celestino made the decision to partially enter the water in order to capture the younger girl.
Firefighter Celestino was successful in his rescue attempt and both girls were brought to dry land, evaluated and transported by Rescue Ambulance for follow up care in reletively good condition.
This was an outstanding effort by all involved. Excellent training and sound tactics by a company working as a team most surely contributed to the successful outcome of what easily could have been a tragedy. As one member stated "If we would have arrived 30 seconds later we wouldn't have been able to save them".
The Battalion 14 Commanders congratulate all of the members who performed the rescue and specifically the members of Engine 98 and Firefighter Mike Celestino.
May the LORD walk along side with you all.
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