On Friday, January 22, 2010 at 11:19 AM, 7 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 3 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 Heavy Rescue, 2 Helicopters, 1 EMS Battalion Captain, 1 Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, 2 Swift Water Rescue Teams under the direction of Assistant Chief Tim Manning responded to a River Rescue at 385 Los Angeles River in the Industrial Eastside area.
When 9-1-1 callers reported a dog in distress within the Los Angeles River and the possibility of someone jumping into the waters to rescue it, sixty LAFD firefighters from across a broad expanse sprang quickly into action on the ground and in the air. Firefighter/Dispatchers queried callers to determine that this 3 year-old German shepherd mix was trapped in frigid fast-moving water and the LAFD wanted the rescue to take place from trained professionals rather than well intentioned individuals that can all-too-easily become victims.
Due to recent severe weather, local flood control channels remain swelled with storm-water, causing the Los Angeles Fire Department to remain in a "River Rescue" preparedness status. Members were strategically pre-deployed to a helipad at Piper Tech, where historically many rescues have taken place, providing a short distance to the LA River. At 1119 hours they were dispatched along with ground swift water rescuers to join the Vernon Fire Department in this recovery.
Due to the fast moving water and the steep embankment, the dog was unable to climb out. Once the canine moved from the side of channel to the center, swift water rescue teams were at a disadvantage to reach him, thus the decision was made by Commanders to deploy firefighters from a helicopter in a hoist operation.
Firefighter Joe St Georges was lowered into the rapids and quickly made his way to the dog and despite being continually bit, held on to the frightened pooch as they were lifted to safety.
The helicopter flew a short distance to a nearby bridge, where it landed to transfer the German Shepherd, now nicknamed Vernon, to the care of ground-based LAFD firefighters that offered comfort and provided medical evaluation.
Vernon is being quarantined for observation (routine after a bite) at S.E.A.A.C.A. Animal Shelter and Firefighter St Georges received a bite wound to his hand and various punctures on his arms. Joe was treated and released at USC medical center.
The LAFD wishes to remind citizens that when rainstorms impact the Los Angeles area, flood control channels, rivers, and arroyos can quickly fill with fast-moving water, creating a potentially life-threatening danger to anyone who gets caught or swept away. Please keep all animals under supervision and remember it is against the law to be inside a flood control channel in Los Angeles, regardless of the weather.
Thanks to all the firefighters involved and due to their bravery and continual training, this incident had a successful outcome.
After an abundance of requests across the nation to provide cards of thanks and donations, the following address is provided: 200 N Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. LAFD Administration, Attn.: Dog Rescue.
Submitted by Spokesman Erik Scott
Los Angeles Fire Department