“Rescue, Mt.Cinders now.” John shouted as he ran towards the chopper. Jack, Josh and me got up from the chairs and started out with our gears. “ Heads…” I said as jack tossed the coin. “Yesss” I shouted, enjoying that fact that I would be going the snake today.
We all worked for the Broward county, Fire and Rescue department. Mt.Cinders sitting on the border of the county is well known for its eight hair pin bends, of which four are highly dangerous. These hair pin bends were common cause of accidents. The search and rescue team comprised of four guys. One of the guys piloted the chopper, one operated the winch and the rope (the snake), one on the snake rescued the victims and the other gave directions to the pilot and the winch. John was our pilot for the day; Jack gave directions, me on the snake and Jim at the Winch. Usually Jim and I toss coins to see who goes down the snake for each rescue; it was my turn that day.
A car with three people had gone over the second of the hair pin bends and we were called for rescue. The chopper took off and we headed towards the accident area. “There they are… 20 feet west, now..” Jack shouted. The John perfectly maneuvered the aircraft over the people. A lady and two kids were perched precariously on the mountain. I strapped myself to snake and started my way down. Jack had to give precise directions to the pilot so that the craft doesn’t go too near to the mountain face or too far away. Also the chopper had to be perfectly still, so that the person going down the snake doesn’t swing. If that happens, he is sure to hit the face of the mountain; and at that force it could mean only one thing; Death! “5 feet north..” Jack hollered just as I reached the spot where a lady and the boy were standing. I unhooked myself, strapped the belt on the lady and gave thumbs up sign. The winch started rolling and she was hauled up. As the snake rolled up Jack continuously gave notice as to how many feet the snake is from the chopper for Jim to operate the winch. “20 feet away…; 10 feet…; 5 feet…. in to the chopper. Victim one rescued. Snake moving down… Rescue Begin Victim 2….”
Just as the snake came down for the second time, I strapped the boy on to it and they hauled up to safety. Of the three people, one boy had fallen on a smaller, unstable rock with only 1 feet foothold. The wind from the rotor blades was pushing stones and pebbles on to the boy and that hampered our rescue further. As we neared him, the chopper jerked a little and I was swung in to the rock. Luckily, I pushed myself away from the stone with my leg and steadied myself. As I neared the boy he just jumped on to me. I clasped the safety belt around him and to me. The momentum with which he jumped caused us to rotate with the snake wildly. The boy slipped in and out of consciousness as we rotated out of control, beneath chopper. As we neared the chopper, the spinning reduced a little but still we were in motion. Without us stopping, they could never bring us in. With one leg inside and the other dangling, Jim tossed me a second rope which served as a counter to stop the spin. As soon as we stopped they pulled us in and the chopper took off towards the county.
It was just another day in the Life of a rescuer. Every time we get that dreaded call, we put our lives on the line, literally. At the end of the day, when we see the happiness of the people whom we rescued, it makes all our efforts worth it.