ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - Athens firefighters are responsible for saving the life of young girl found clinging to a branch, stuck in fast-moving, deep water.
All of the rain this weekend made for dangerous conditions in the creek where it happened, but the first responders were up to the task.
Battalion Chief Torrey Downs said the daring rescue played out right before noon on Sunday.
It happened behind the Elmwood Apartments on Elm Street. Athens Fire and Rescue received a call that a girl had fallen into the creek.
Firefighters found the 12-year-old girl hanging onto a branch she managed to grab.
The current was moving very quickly, and the water was about six feet deep where she was.
“A female subject got swept downstream by the current. Her and a friend were playing up shore and she got swept away by the current and was holding on by a limb,” explained Battalion Chief Downs.
Luckily, the girl’s friend was able to call 911.
Firefighters knew that every second counted, and they acted fast. Within minutes, a three-man rescue team formed a chain and got down to her.
Firefighter Colton Hill, driver & EMT, was part of the rescue mission.
“When we got to her, she was about ten feet off the bank in the water hanging on a tree limb. The quick acting of the crew here, we made a chain and used all of our personal protective equipment, our life vests and everything, and made a quick decision to go get her,” Hill said.
They got her out and thankfully, their young patient wasn’t hurt.
“She was 100 percent OK,” Chief Downs stated, applauding the hard work of his crew. “They had the right gear for the call, and they deployed quickly and were able to retrieve the patient in less than five minutes.”
They know how treacherous the situation was for the child.
“Luckily, she had a friend with her who was able to call 911 and we were able to get a quick response time. If that subject didn’t have a phone with them and they had to run to a landline to make the call or if the patient had been by themselves, it could have been a very different outcome,” Chief Downs added.
Firefighter Hill said the girl was understandably scared and he was glad first responders were nearby at the time and able to respond to the scene and provide assistance. It was all in a day’s work for the crew and now, a child is safe because of their actions.
“It’s not a one-person rescue. All the effort was used today from everyone,” Hill stated. “When something like that is going on, you don’t have time to think about it, you just act. Luckily, we’re all trained on what to do in that situation and we acted on it and there was a good outcome.”