Rescue mission considered textbook operation - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Rescue mission considered textbook operation

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A textbook operation. That's what firefighters are calling this rescue mission.

WTOC was the only TV station on scene as Southside firefighters pulled a man from the Little Ogeechee River just after midnight. One firefighter said the man being rescued was one of his friends.

Firefighter Chris Cuza said this type of rescue is very rare, and it was even more shocking that it was one of his friends. Rescuers said the man fell about 50 feet from Veterans Parkway to the Little Ogeechee River.

Amazingly, the man was barely hurt.

"He actually happens to be a long time friend of mine," said Cuza.  

Cuza said this type of rescue mission is not something they do every day. He said when they get called, they don't really know what they will find.

He realized he was saving one of his friends early Tuesday morning. 

"He took about a 50 foot fall," said Cuza.  

Cuza didn't want to tell us the victim's name because the man's a little embarrassed by the ordeal. Fortunately, the only thing that was really hurt was his pride. 

The man fell straight down in between the bridge that crosses over the Little Ogeechee River. Firefighters worked for hours to hoist him back up to safety.

"At the beginning, your mind just kind of goes blank, but then you revert back to your training," said Cuza.

He said a group of about six firefighters have been training to be certified search and rescue responders. He said the rope rescue mission was the first course they completed a few months ago.

They use gear that's similar to what you use in a ropes course.  They harness up, use the ladder for leverage and work as a team to hoist the person to safety.

"We have run that same scenario numerous times," said Cuza.  

Lt. Frank Pilcher helped train some of the firefighters who responded early Tuesday morning, and he said the execution of the mission was textbook.

"We have been practicing for it, so it's just another day of training," said Pilcher.  

He said if they had not been properly trained, and if this had been a serious accident, they would have needed to call for back up. 

"It's just a delay in the time you can rescue them," said Pilcher.

He said all the Southside firefighters are meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the rescue and to share their success with each other. It's also a way to encourage more firefighters to become certified in rope rescue.

As for the victim, he returned to work today with just a little back pain.

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